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Inclusive Learning: Resources for Presenters

AFE seeks to create a learning environment that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion, in which all members of the wildland fire community feel welcome, safe, and valued. With 400+ presentations at our large events, we recognize the important role that presenters play in developing the program and creating that learning environment. Speakers must balance perceptions, intentions, speaker rights, and responsibility to audiences.

AFE also seeks to help our members and event attendees better understand unconscious bias, microaggressions, how to be an active bystander, and how to refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior, materials, and speech.

The resources below provide helpful information about these issues, along with recommendations for creating presentations that are both inclusive and accessible to all.

  • All attendees are expected to follow AFE’s Code of Ethics.
  • As a reminder, this means all presenters and attendees will
    • conduct themselves in a civil and dignified manner;
    • act professionally and respectfully toward one another;
    • respect the needs, contributions, and viewpoints of others; and
    • give due credit to others for their methods, ideas, or assistance.
  • AFE prohibits
    • abusive language, harassment, or any form of discrimination against another attendee;
    • actual or threatened violence toward any individual or group; and
    • conduct endangering the life, safety, health or well-being of others.

Please ensure that you review statement numbers 4 and 5 in particular, as they relate to sharing TEK at conferences and cultural data sovereignty. More information and resources are available here

  1. AFE recognizes and honors that Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)1 is science2.
  2. AFE recognizes the historical genocide and abuses that First Nations, Native Americans, and original cultures have suffered following settler colonialism.
  3. AFE recognizes that cultural fire use has often been discounted, disrespected, and criminalized. We are actively working towards rebuilding trust and relationships that support restoring rights to traditional fire stewardship practices and the deep knowledge systems associated with these practices on ancestral lands.
  4. AFE is committed to supporting data sovereignty and asks that those sharing TEK at conferences or in publications first seek permission to do so through formal data sharing agreements.
  5. AFE recognizes that knowledge about cultural fire use and place-based practices is held by many cultures and must not be appropriated or exploited. TEK may not be shared outside of respective cultures or groups without their expressed consent. AFE acknowledges that consent to share TEK by one culture or group does not imply that other cultures allow sharing of their knowledge.
  6. AFE aspires to find common solutions to the fire-related challenges all sectors of society face with wildland fires by respectfully bringing together TEK and western scientific methods of inquiry and ways of knowing.

1 We are using Traditional Ecological Knowledge here instead of Indigenous Knowledge because this term is more broadly accepted internationally.

2 We define science as the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence (

  • Remember your audience includes individuals of varying gender, sexual orientation, abilities, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, age, national origin, and socio-economic status.
  • Ask yourself or a colleague if any of the images, words, or examples in your presentation might be perceived as hurtful or derogatory. When in doubt, take it out.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the value that diversity brings (rather than ignoring or denying our differences).
  • Use people-centric language (e.g., person with a disability).
  • Include images of people representing different ages, sexes, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Visual aids should be evaluated in terms of the wording and pictures they use, and analogies they convey.
  • Avoid stereotypes in your examples, stories, and images.
  • Use gender-neutral words and terms (e.g., chair instead of chairman). For a list of examples, click here.
  • Ask for pronouns during introductions or use gender-neutral pronouns (e.g., they, them, their)
  • Capitalize racial, ethnic, and cultural terms (e.g., Black, Native American or Tribal Nation, Latinx, Indigenous, Aboriginal, and others).
  • AFE will acknowledge native lands during plenary sessions at our events; you are welcome to also add a native land acknowledgment at the start of your presentation as well. For virtual events, we suggest using your location. You can look up native lands here:
  • Use large (at least 24 point), simple, san serif fonts (e.g., Arial, Verdana, Helvetica)
  • Use background and text colors that are high in contrast and avoid combinations difficult for people who are color blind to read. Do not use color as the only method for distinguishing information.
  • Make sure that backgrounds are not cluttered and leave plenty of “white space” in the background.
  • Use large images.
  • Simplify graphs and charts when possible.
  • Present your content in a well-organized manner; allow flexibility to adjust to your audience as appropriate.
  • Use clear, simple language and keywords and phrases rather than full sentences on slides.
  • Spell out abbreviations and acronyms when first used and avoid using too many.

Above bullets by Sheryl Bugstahler, Equal Access: Universal Design of Your Presentation

  • For questions, comments, or to report issues, please use this anonymous form.
  • You can submit this information anonymously or provide contact information for a response. Your contact information will be kept confidential.