Are you looking forward to the next in-person KLAS conference? Or would you prefer to keep things online? Either way, I have some hopeful news: planning for the 2023 KLAS Users’ Conference is underway and picking up steam!

Barring still more “unprecedented events,” UC 2023 will be held July 17-20, 2023 at the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville, TN. For those who can’t attend in person, we are looking into options for hybrid sessions, and plan to offer as much of the conference to you as possible. To facilitate this, we will likely be changing up the conference schedule, allowing in-person-only, hands-on content to occur in the mornings, and hybrid sessions to occur in the afternoon (when they will be reasonably timed across more time zones). Our goal is to ensure those attending in person get as much value for their travel as possible and provide a valuable experience for those who can’t join us in Tennessee, while ensuring both groups will be able to justify the expense to their funding agency.

While we do not yet know what the registration fees will be, we will try to keep them as low as possible and still deliver a quality conference. Our top contender for the conference hotel has quoted us a nightly rate of $179 / night, which is below the 2022 government rate. We are researching transportation options to get everyone from the hotel to the school and back, and catered-in lunches will help keep daily meal costs reasonable. For online attendees, a minimal registration fee will help cover whatever equipment or software costs we incur to bring the afternoon sessions to you.

Helping us to close in on the specifics, we just completed a site visit, checking out what has changed at TSB since 2019, investigating possible reception venues and caterers, and making sure the hotel is up to par.

We have excellent Programming and Logistics Committees assembled who are digging into all the challenges of our first hybrid conference, as well as all the usual conference minutiae, but of course we need your help as well. How many people should we expect in-person or online? What precautions need to be in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety?

Have a look at our proposed conference schedule, read on for a few teasers from our site visit, but also don’t miss completing our Pre-conference Planning Survey. With so much uncertainty, change, and opportunity for an amazing new conference format, we need your input this year more than ever!

Site visit photos: 

A man with short dark hair and a white t-shirt and face mask stands in front of a room filled with long tables and rolling chairs. In the front of the room is a projector screen, and there are two large monitors on the side wall. There are windows into another indoor space, plus higher windows to let in natural light, including a large round window at the peak of the sloped ceiling.

Allen Huang, Director of the Tennessee Instructional Resource Center, shows us the school's atrium, which is excellent for general sessions with its comfortable chairs, large projection screen, and monitors set up to mirror the front screen. 

The school librarian is a woman with tightly curled red hair and a purple t-shirt. Beside her is Dr. Hung, Katy, who has braided hair, glasses, a green face mask, and a green shirt with ferns and moths printed on it, and James, who has a black face mask and a blue plaid shirt, and who is waving to the camera. The library has shelves with books and other materials, a large front desk, and an area of comfortable-looking arm chairs and sofas arranged in a semi-circle.

The school librarian shows Keystone staff Katy and James their conversation area, which is a good fit for casual networking or just decompressing between conference sessions.

The hotel lobby, showing scattered seating and side tables, and a semicircular bar at the far end. The wall to the left of the viewer is mostly glass, looking out on outdoor seating, a pool, and a lawn. Overhead, round hanging lights contribute to a fun atmosphere.

The hotel has plenty of hang-out space split between the interior lobby and the outdoor courtyard. The pool will be a welcome amenity come July, and there is an indoor gym, hot breakfast, all-day coffee, and a bar. There are a couple restaurants and convenience stores within walking distance, or biking distance on one of the hotel's bicycles. 

Katy and James smiling at a restaurant table. James is waving to the camera again, and both have plates in front of them with biscuits and cornbread. There is also ice tea and a white gravy visible on the table. The background shows the restaurant's historical architectural features, including a marble fireplace, built-in shelves, and chandeliers, plus eclectic antique décor.

James and Katy trying out the food at a possible reception venue, Monell's at the Manor, which is a family-style restaurant in a historic mansion. If we move forward with this venue, we would have exclusive access--only Users' Conference attendees and restaurant staff would be present, and there is a ton of room to spread out and for air to circulate. They serve fantastic Southern food in a unique and fun environment.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview! As we get further along planning the conference we'll have more to share, but for now, please tell us about your plans and preferences by answering the Pre-conference Planning Survey!

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Keystone Systems, Inc.
8016 Glenwood Ave., Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27612