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Judge Training Materials


1AC-CESSIBILITY has created judge training materials in hopes that tournaments will incorporate them as part of their judge training. These materials were formulated with careful consideration, so that the advice could be implemented by any judge, regardless of tournament policy. Feel free to share them with your local tournaments, league tournaments, or your next bid tournament! 1AC-CESSIBILITY will be sending these materials to TOC and NIETOC bid tournaments in the coming weeks. 

PDF Handout


Link to video:

Video Transcript

Hello! My name is Alanna Cronk. I am the founder of 1AC-CESSIBILITY, a community organization dedicated to improving speech and debate for disabled participants. Welcome to today's judge training video.


The purpose of today's video is to give you information on how to judge in a way that fosters inclusivity for disabled participants.


Today, we are going to be discussing what disability is and means, the purpose of speech and debate, and how to judge in a more equitable manner.


[whoosh noise]


According to Lydia X. Z. Brown (they/them or no pronouns), a prominent disability rights advocate, "people are disabled when they have physical or mental differences or impairments while living in a society where their bodies, ways of thinking, communicating, sensing, or moving are not treated as natural or normal." Many disabilities are not outwardly recognizable. You may judge a disabled participants at today's tournament or one in the future. As a judge, you have an important influence on the rankings, experience, and outcomes of participants at a tournament. This is why it is very important to try and not perpetuate ableism.


Speech and debate is an academic, extracurricular activity based in communication, discourse, and argumentation via speeches. The heart of this activity lies in educational benefits. Students participating learn about specific topics relating to what they are debating , interpreting, or writing about. They also learn communication skills. It also broadens collegiate opportunities for some participants. There are many things to judge on across events including quality of writing, argumentation, intonation of the voice, volume, emotion conveyed, entertainment, technical precision, character developments, responses to opponents' arguments, and more. No one factor is make or break--that is extremely important to keep in mind during these next sections.


First,  I want to encourage you to try to foster inclusivity in the ways you can and be there for your participants. If a competitor has a question or concern they want to share with you, take a moment to listen to them, and see what kind of support that you can offer. If a participant needs a short break, give it to them, they may be managing an ongoing medical or disability related concern and need patience to be successful.


It is also important to try not and judge on certain factors relating to disability. Please refrain from allowing noticeable medical equipment like insulin pumps, mobility aids, hearing aids, and other devices distract you or negatively impact your evaluation of a participant. Additionally, please do not let disabilities or medical conditions relating to speech like Tourette's, tics, stutters, or other related conditions negatively impact your judgment. There are several factors to judge on in speech from emotion to tone to pacing that can substitute in place of fluidity and vice versa. Finally, it is possible that a participant may be late to a round due to disabilities that impact mobility. Please be understanding of the difficulties of navigating potentially inaccessible, unfamiliar new locations and landscapes.


When judging speech events, it is important to keep in mind that not all competitors have the same capacity for mobility. Complicated blocking, the planned movement of the body, may not be possible for all competitors. Please do not let simple or nonexistent blocking negatively impact your judgment. Rather, I invite you to conceptualize of blocking as one of many potential areas where a competitor can impress you but not necessary for competitive success.


When judging debate events, if a debater elects not to spread or speed read, I invite you to support them in that decision. Spreading may be extremely difficult or not possible for participants for a variety of reasons including being hard-of-hearing, having auditory processing disorders, or having cognitive disabilities. Please do not perceive this decision as a request for the debate to be easier. Non-spreading debates are just as intellectually valuable.


So today, we learned about disability, and ableism, the purpose of speech and debate, and some tips on how to judge in a more equitable manner. Copies of this information can be found on our website [], and thank you so much for listening to today's presentation.

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