What a great time we had in Los Angeles at ATA63! It was especially exciting to see that social media and blog posts in which attendees recapped their ATA63 experiences continued for many weeks after the conference.
As I’m writing this, planning for ATA’s 64th Annual Conference is in full swing. We’re getting ready for the site visit to Miami, and I can’t wait to check out our conference hotel. For those of you who attended ATA56 in 2015, we’ll be staying at the same hotel, the Hyatt Regency Miami.
I’ll be sharing updates as they become available. In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider submitting a conference proposal this year. The call for speaker proposals for ATA64 is now open and the proposal form is available online until March 1 on the conference website. If you’ve never written a proposal to present at an ATA Annual Conference, then watch our free webinar “How to Submit a Successful ATA Annual Conference Proposal” to learn more about developing and submitting a presentation proposal. If you have any questions about submitting a conference proposal, please contact Adrian Aleckna, ATA’s Professional Development Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some Changes for ATA64
ATA’s Annual Conference is our flagship event, and we’re always looking for ways to make it a fantastic experience for attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors. The conference survey is an important tool during the planning process, and I would like to thank all of you who submitted your feedback on ATA63. Additionally, last year, the Board and the Executive Committee discussed various ways of rethinking our Annual Conference model, and some of these changes will be introduced at ATA64.
Distinguished Speakers: As I shared in my column last year, selecting and scheduling conference sessions is not an easy task, as conference organizers before me will attest. ATA has 22 divisions, and according to tradition, each of them would normally be invited to nominate a distinguished speaker to present two one-hour sessions. If approved, these invitations could account for up to 48 sessions out of the allotted number of conference sessions, which dramatically decreases the number of conference slots available for regular sessions. Since all approved distinguished speakers receive an honorarium, this program is also one of the top areas where we can save the Association money and improve our overall Annual Conference budget.
I’ve discussed changes to the distinguished speaker program with ATA’s division administrators and assistant administrators, and we decided to switch to a new system this year. Divisions will have an opportunity to nominate a distinguished speaker every other year, starting with those divisions holding an election in 2023. This will give outgoing officers a final chance to nominate a distinguished speaker while giving incoming officers a year to prepare and research speaker candidates for 2025. We’ll continue discussing further changes to the distinguished speaker model with division leadership, including the opportunity for divisions to collaborate or “share” a distinguished speaker.
Conference Tracks: Another challenge that many conference organizers before me have dealt with is the number of conference tracks at a typical ATA Annual Conference. With almost 30 language- and subject-specific conference tracks, it has been increasingly difficult to schedule something for everyone and offer a variety of sessions for beginners and veterans alike. So, the time has come to rethink our conference tracks, and you’ll notice this in the call for proposals for ATA64.
By introducing new conference tracks, we’re able to highlight important and specific areas of translation and interpreting (e.g., conference interpreting, translation and interpreting in education, localization, etc.) as well as bring attention to such important topics as working in languages of lesser diffusion and diversity, equity, and inclusion in T&I. Please check the call for speaker proposals for the new list of conference tracks, which now also includes a description of each track. You’ll also notice that you can now submit either a 30- or 60-minute session proposal.
New for ATA64!
New this year, we’ll also be hosting three types of conference sessions: ATA Microtalks, ATA Professional Forums, and ATA Committee Forums.
ATA Microtalks are meant to be engaging and dynamic. Speakers will have 15 minutes to address a topic of interest for translators, interpreters, and/or language services providers. Think TED-style talks for language nerds!
ATA Professional Forums will offer divisions an opportunity to discuss important issues facing professionals working in a specific language combination or field of expertise. These sessions are not presentations, nor are they meant to replace annual division meetings. Think of these as interactive discussions led by a moderator, where participants work together to address professional issues and discuss possible solutions. We’ll have a limited number of 60-minute slots available for Professional Forums, and division leadership will need to submit a request through the Call for Proposals. Divisions can also collaborate and request a joint Professional Forum.
ATA Committee Forums will offer ATA committees an opportunity to give a brief update about the activities, initiatives, and resources they’re working on and answer questions from attendees. This is an opportunity for conference attendees to learn about the work of various ATA committees, meet committee members, and offer their time and talents as a volunteer. We’ll have a limited number of 15-minute slots available for Committee Forums, and committee chairs will need to submit a request through the Call for Proposals.
Other ideas we’re working on include revamping some of the conference events, updating conference badges, and enhancing the Exhibit Hall experience and the sponsorship packages. I’ll share more updates in future columns.
I’m very excited about these changes and hope that they will help boost your ATA64 experience. I look forward to seeing you in Miami October 25-28, 2023!
From the President-Elect