Gatlinburg Conference Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why aren’t Continuing Education (CE) credits offered?

At one time we did offer continuing education credits. However, the credits were claimed by only a very small percentage of attendees. Gatlinburg attendees are so diverse, and most are not active practitioners. In order to offer the credits, we now have to go through an even more rigorous process, which includes requiring every speaker (read: even symposium participants) to submit their goals and objectives and documentation that they are not receiving a financial benefit. This is too onerous of a process for very little yield.

2. It doesn’t seem like there’s enough food and beverage offered all day long. Why is that?

We are pleased to offer beverages during the day, food and beverages at the evening receptions and breakfast on the final day of the conference. But please understand we cannot continually refresh these food and beverage items throughout the day. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is a non-profit and, as such, we have a limited budget within which to work. As you can imagine, costs for food and beverage at hotels are extremely high (for instance, each cup of coffee costs us $4.95.) In order to keep conference costs down and registration fees at a level that is affordable and accessible to everyone, we have to keep our food budget in line.

3. What advice can you give me when it comes to my symposium presentation?

Coordination amongst symposium presenters is essential to a successful presentation. Please make sure that all participants communicate with each other beforehand so that material is not repeated, length of individual presentation is agreed upon, and the discussant knows his/her role. As well, the usual guidelines for presentations apply, such as not reading from a script, making eye contact with the audience, and using inflection in your voice. A great rule of thumb is, present in a way that would engage you if you were an audience member.

4. Why don’t you accept papers anymore?

The challenge of paper sessions in the past was that attendance was very low at them. In years past, when there were high numbers of paper submissions, there were fewer posters. Posters are better attended and have essentially replaced paper sessions. In addition, the Gatlinburg Conference prides itself on its intimate nature as a smaller conference, and collaboration among attendees is encouraged. Poster sessions better allow attendees to talk with each other in a more relaxed social setting.

5. I’m presenting a poster at the conference this year. Am I supposed to stay at my display the whole time, or am I allowed to step away for a few minutes?

Feel free to step away from the poster board! You are most welcome to take a break during your allotted poster session to grab a snack or a drink or visit with other attendees.

6. Where are the abstracts?

In 2013 we moved to a new model of making poster and symposia abstracts available online only. This saves money (both in printing costs and labor), thereby allowing us to allocate those funds to other important line items – like travel awards! Additionally, the program book is more lightweight, and you can easily access the abstracts online during the conference. Typically, the abstracts will be loaded onto the conference Web site a few days prior to the conference, so you are welcome to download, print them, and bring them with you, if you wish.

7. Can international students/postdoctoral fellows apply for and win Gatlinburg Conference travel awards?

Yes, international students/postdoctoral fellows are allowed to apply for travel awards. Each travel award is worth up to $500 in travel reimbursement for flights, hotel, registration, etc. What happens is, after the conference, winners submit their receipts (often enough, their flights and/or hotel exceed $500, so they send the most expensive receipts first), and the conference co-manager drafts a check request for up to $500. If an international visitor wins a travel award, he/she would have to submit a copy of his/her passport and complete a Business Visitor Questionnaire (BVQ). As far as tax implications are concerned, if you do not have a U.S. Social Security number, you would be charged a flat rate of 30 percent on the $500 travel award.

All students and postdocs are welcome to apply for as many travel awards as they feel they are qualified for. Gatlinburg Conference participants can win only one travel award per conference.

8. Can I give you an announcement to send out to the entire Gatlinburg Conference mailing list?

Occasionally we will send out messages to our mailing list on subjects that are closely related to our conference or the field of developmental disability research. However, in order for us to send out a message from an external source, we require you to have it ‘endorsed’ by an Executive Committee member. So, please contact an Executive Committee member first, requesting their endorsement. Please then be sure to include all pertinent information (e.g. who to contact with questions, website links, etc.) We cannot guarantee a stand-alone message. In other words, we may have to send out your message with another announcement. This is because we are very judicious with the number of e-mails we send to our list and we don’t want to inundate them. Finally, we cannot guarantee when your message will be sent. Again, this has to do with spacing out communications to our mailing list. Thank you for understanding.

9. Why isn't there Wi-Fi available in the meeting rooms?

There are two main reasons why Wi-Fi is not available in the meeting rooms. The first is a cost-saving measure. The cost to provide Wi-Fi access within the meeting rooms comes down to around $20 per person, per day. In order to keep expenses – and, as a result, registration fees – to a minimum, this is one of the steps we take. (Don’t worry, though – Wi-Fi is still available in the registration area as well as in individual sleeping rooms.) Secondly, it is out of respect for our presenters. Our plenary speakers and symposium presenters have put considerable time and effort into their presentations and deserve undivided attention from their audience members.

10. Can you tell me who is attending the conference this year?

We cannot provide attendee information to conference-goers due to privacy limitations.

11. Why isn't the conference held over a weekend?

One of the goals of the conference is to attract junior researchers. We realize that many of these junior researchers have families, and it is more difficult for them to be away from their families over a weekend. As well, hotel prices and airfares increase.


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