Last week, the American Academy of Audiology hosted its first-ever all-virtual conference, AAA 2021 Virtual. Promising to deliver “Audiology, Wherever You Are,” AAA 2021 Virtual welcomed over 1,630 attendees from across the United States as well as abroad, including Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Japan, and more.
Attendees were admitted into the virtual lobby of the Intrado platform on Wednesday, April 14, and greeted by a welcome video courtesy of Angela Shoup, PhD, Academy President. For the first time, attendees could peruse the lobby, access resources, visit the exhibit halls, and create their conference schedule. The day’s education officially launched with “Innovating the Professional and Patient Experience,” a symposium offered by Starkey, the AAA 2021 Virtual Presenting Sponsor.
After attending a few more industry sessions, attendees could log off and prepare for the next two education-packed days. But for 71 people, it was time to get their heads in the game and attend Trivia Night, an American Academy of Audiology Foundation FUN-raiser. Battling it out for bragging rights and prizes, 13 teams entered the competition, answering questions about audiology and general knowledge. In the end, it was Team Beyonce Know-Alls that triumphed with a total of 52 points, each player winning a $50 e-gift card. Just barely behind them with a total of 48 points, Team COVID Your Ears took home second place and a $25 e-gift card for each player. Thanks to everyone who participated in such a fun interactive event and to our sponsor, Signia, for helping to make it possible.
With the words “rematch” ringing in some of the attendees’ ears, day two began with a keynote address by Daniel Mochon, PhD, “How Behavioral Economics Can Help People Make Better Decisions,” setting the bar high with nearly 900 people in attendance. From there, attendees dispersed throughout the virtual theater to their own ‘must-see’ sessions, with the most popular attracting up to 600 attendees each. Presentations included a chat where presenters could answer questions from the audience during the session, clarifying points and addressing thoughtful input; as well as some following live Q&A.
In between earning CEUs and learning about new ideas and best practices, attendees could take breaks to visit the exhibit hall or the interactive lounges. Across six exhibit halls with 79 exhibitors in their virtual booths, attendees watched product demos, received digital business cards, downloaded white papers, and had private one-on-one chats or video calls with booth representatives. More than 80 percent of attendees took advantage of the exhibit halls with most visiting a hall more than once.
Through days two and three of the conference, eight interactive lounges were held, covering a variety of topics and with different moderators to steer the conversation. More than 350 attendees joined these lounges according to their interest in pediatrics, adult diagnostics, research, diversity, inclusion and equity, state leadership and advocacy, and other topics.
At the end of Thursday’s events, 40 attendees were ready to “wine-down” and attend the Political Action Committee (PAC) Wine-Tasting Event. Exclusive to Academy members, the event was led by a wine expert; four wines were sampled and the merits and complements of each discussed. The event was well attended by wine enthusiasts, who kept the conversation flowing with questions, personal tips, and discussion of wine cork vs. screw top pros and cons.
Though it was difficult to close out the last day on Friday, the Academy was very pleased by the timely closing keynote address, “Cultural Humility: A Framework for Action in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” presented by Debra J. Barksdale, PhD. This final session was attended by 500 people and led to not only a lively discussion during the session Q&A, but also a powerful dynamic chat in the following final interactive lounge on inclusion, diversity, and equity. Thank you to everyone who attended and shared their experiences.
Any persons who were not able to register for the conference prior to the live days can still register now through April 30. Registration includes access to on-demand content; all AAA 2021 Virtual education and 16 additional educational sessions from other hearing-health-care-related organizations and associations, as well as complimentary registration for the live-only Clinical Education Forum, April 26, 4:00–5:00 pm ET.
AAA 2021 Virtual would not have been possible without Chairs Hope Gillison, AuD, and Erin Miller, AuD, the Program Committee, all the volunteers on the Program Subcommittees, and the generous support of our sponsors.
Thank you for joining us for this event, and we are excited to be back together next year, March 30–April 2, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri.
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