Banner photo: geometric pattern/wall, Ryerson University Student Center

getting started

Welcome to UIST 2021! These instructions assume that you’ve already registered for the conference, so if you haven’t then please first read the registration content and register for the conference!

If you participated in UIST 2020, then much of how the conference is organized in 2021 will be familiar to you. If not, here’s a quick overview:

  • There is an online program that provides access to all of the conference content and the conference schedule.
  • UIST will be held from October 10–14, following a 24-hour schedule. You can read more about the overall structure of the schedule in our blog post.
  • Conversations, discussion, and socializing will take place on the UIST Discord server. This is the same server that was used for 2020 and there are some community channels that are open to everyone who chooses to join. Other channels for discussing live content and particular papers are restricted to registered attendees only.
  • Papers, demos, posters, keynotes and other live content will be accessed through Zoom. Please make sure you have the most up-to-date version of Zoom installed so that you can access all of the features. Links to the rooms are provided to registered attendees in the conference program and in various Discord channels.
  • Select social events will take place on the Ohyay platform. Registered attendees can find the direct link in the conference program.
  • How to get the most out of the conference? Become an "Awesome Attendee" by completing a list of Scavenger Hunt challenges.

The remainder of this document will cover how to use these technology platforms to get the most out of your conference experience. This is a living page, and we expect to update it continuously as the conference gets closer and more details become available.

Table of Contents

Getting Help

If you run into difficulties, there are several ways that you can request help.

  • If you’re able to access Discord, then the best option is to ask your question in the #helpdesk (in app) channel. This channel is monitored by a number of people and should guarantee the quickest response. The channel is also available no matter how far you’ve been able to progress in the Discord registration process.
  • Otherwise, please send e-mail to

Log In To The Conference Platforms

You will want to start with logging in to the conference program and Discord server. Ensuring that you have the privileges of a registered attendee on these platforms is critical to gaining access to the rest of the conference program.

Get Set Up With

If you have already registered for the conference as an ACM member, and as instructed used the e-mail address associated with your ACM account with your registration, then you should already have access to the program as a registered attendee.

If you registered for the conference as an ACM non-member and don’t yet have an ACM account, then you will need to create an account to access the full program. Go to the program website, tap the login link, and then tap one of the three items (most likely the “Free” item) in the left column labeled “Sign up to SIGCHI” to create an account. Make sure to use the same e-mail here as you used in your conference registration.

SIGCHI programs website: login page.

From the time of your registration and the creation of your account, it may take 1-2 hours for our automated system to grant you access to the preprints. If it has been longer than a couple hours, then please reach out to the #helpdesk (in app) channel on Discord for help (see Discord instructions below).

You will know that you have registered attendee access when you view a paper in the UIST program and the “Q&A” link appears immediately below the paper title. More details about how to navigate the program site can be found below.

SIGCHI programs website: paper detail page.
Get Set Up With Discord

Discord is an online chat platform, similar to Slack, which offers several ways for users to interact in both a synchronous and asynchronous manner. It is used at UIST 2021 as the main method for attendees to have conversations and socialize.

First, you will want to download the Discord software to your device of choice. The software is available for multiple platforms and there is also an in-browser version, but we suggest downloading the desktop client for Mac or PC. As you will see later, the Discord links available on our Program web site only work with the desktop Discord client.

Next, you will want to join the UIST Discord server by simply clicking this invitation link.

Once you’ve joined the server, there are several steps that you’ll need to take to get full registered access. The server has bots that will walk you through the process, but we will quickly list the four steps here:

  • Set your nickname to be your full name. To do this, right-click on the server icon in the leftmost column, select “Edit Server Profile”, and then update your nickname. UIST Discord: dropdown menu from UIST icon, 'Edit Server Profile' option highlighted. UIST Discord: 'Edit Server Profile' dialog open, nickname in example screenshot updated to Jeff Nichols (UIST 2021 GC).
  • Agree to the Code of the Conduct by liking the post in the #start-here (in app) channel. UIST Discord: #start-here channel.
  • Optionally select any social channels that you may wish to become a part of in the #choose-channels (in app) channel. UIST Discord: #choose-channels channel.
  • Post your full name in the #registration-desk (in app) channel. UIST Discord: #registration-desk channel.

The first two steps will gain you initial access to the server, and should happen nearly instantaneously. The final step requires a human to verify your registration and grant you full attendee access. Prior to the conference start this may take up to 24 hours, but during the conference it should happen within minutes.

Get Set Up With Ohyay

We are very excited to introduce to you a variety of social events this year, which we hope will make your virtual UIST experience more fun! 🎉

To make it closer to a real-world conference experience, we will be using a new interactive video platform called Ohyay for most of the social events. This year, we are also piloting Who2chat, a tool to help you meet new people at conferences through one-on-one chats.

Ohyay works in a web browser and does not require any setup, so once you click on an Ohyay link in the program, you will quickly find yourself in the social space and able to start interacting.

Learn how to attend a social session below!

Get Set Up With who2chat!

UIST is piloting Who2chat, a system to help you meet new people at conferences developed by a team of researchers at MIT. Who2chat helps you figure out who at the conference would be good for you to meet, then helps coordinate brief coffee-break-style meetings with those people. The interface also allows research advisors to make social recommendations in order to help younger researchers navigate and find relevant reseachers to talk to.

To get started, you should log in to Who2chat and set up your profile. This will allow people to find you, and allow you to create a list of people you'd like to meet. Who2chat will be available throughout the conference, but , to allow you to connect to the people you've chosen to meet or who've chosen to meet you.

Start by visiting the Who2Chat website.

Who2Chat website: login page.

You may choose either of the login methods. The ACM login method will redirect to the programs web site, where you will login using the same method as shown above in the programs website section.

After logging in, you will be presented with the consent form where you will need to enter a registration code. For UIST, use code U!ST2@21, as shown in the screenshot below.

Who2Chat website: consent page.

After consenting, you will be prompted to fill in your profile, including your name, affiliation, links to any papers that you may have published at UIST, and other optional information.

Who2Chat website: profile setup page.

Once you have successfully filled in your profile, you can browse the other people who have registered for the site, start to make connections and set up meetings with your connections.

Who2Chat website: initial page showing people available for connection.

For more information, refer to these guidelines ( For technical support, contact or

Understand The Schedule

UIST 2021 has a 24 hour schedule, which is based on three time blocks that are each scheduled to work best for two-thirds of the world’s major time zones.

  • Block A - Afternoon/Evening in the Americas & Morning in Asia
  • Block B - Afternoon in Asia & Morning in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA)
  • Block C - Evening in EMEA & Morning/Afternoon in the Americas

Most content items, including every paper, demo, poster, & student innovation contest entry, is presented twice during the conference in two different time blocks. We expect this will allow all attendees to see most content items presented live without needing to be awake at atypical hours.

The following figure further illustrates the schedule in 6 major timezones. You can also read a Medium post that lays out some of the rationale for this schedule.

UIST Schedule: Visualization of the three days with three time blocks each.

Nearly every time block starts with an hour of time for a plenary session, followed by two hours of parallel paper sessions, an hour for demo & poster sessions, and wraps up with a social hour.

Please note that the opening session starts 30 minutes earlier, and the closing session ends 30 minutes later.

I Want To Plan My Schedule

First, make sure you have logged into the program web site as described above. If you are logged in, then you should see your name near the top of the left sidebar, as in the figure below:

SIGCHI programs website: UIST 2021 conference page, selected through the top option on the left sidebar. Includes a 'View Index' button.

There are four separate ways to browse the program and select the papers and other content that you may be interested in seeing. All are accessible from the left sidebar.

The Program section shows the schedule of presentations on a daily basis customized to your local timezone. This will help you find which sessions are occurring during your normal waking hours, so you can focus on the sessions that are most convenient for you.

The Index is a simple list of all the content in the conference, whereas the Gallery displays content items in a grid view and includes videos when available, extra links and information. You can also browse by author in the Authors section.

There are many ways to select papers for your schedule, but one way we recommend is to browse either the Index or Gallery for content that is related to your research interests. For example, consider this view of the index below:

SIGCHI programs website: index page listing a number of papers.

In either the Index or the Gallery, if you click on a paper then you’ll be taken to the paper detail page, such as the one shown below:

SIGCHI programs website: paper detail page.

From this view, you can see the two sessions when the paper is scheduled to be presented, with the dates and times shown in your local timezone. You can click the icon of the clock for the session that you’d like to attend, which will save this session into your schedule. If both are at times that you can attend, then you may want to click both for now and then filter your schedule later once you’ve identified all of the content that you’d ideally like to see.

Note that you can also click the binder box icon to the right of the title to save the paper in your reading list.

Repeat until you feel you have a complete schedule, then you can click on “My Schedule” in the left sidebar to see all of the papers and sessions that you have selected. If you’ve selected multiple at the same time, then you drill down and make some hard decisions.

I Want To Know What's Happening Now

There are two ways to find out what is happening right now.

First, you can visit Discord. The #whats-happening-now (in app) channel will contain messages describing the current conference events and links that will take you directly to those sessions. If plenary or paper sessions are happening, you can see the current discussion going on in the Live Session channels and there should also be a Zoom link posted that you can click to view the presentation.

Second, you can see what’s happening now on the program web site. From the main program page, click on “Gallery” in the left sidebar. Above the grid of content items is a toggle button with the label “Happening soon.” Toggling this button will show you items that are coming up.

SIGCHI programs website: gallery view with happening now selected and content filters shown.

Note that the figure shows no items coming up because it was taken in advance of the conference.

If there are a lot of items coming up, such as when the demo & poster session is happening soon, you can try two methods of filtering. First, as shown in the figure, you can select the particular content items that you are interested in. Second, you can click the shuffle link to the right of the “Happening soon” toggle button to get an alternate view of the upcoming items.

I Want to Attend a Session!

UIST 2021 has several different types of sessions. This section assumes that the session you want to see is ongoing or coming up very soon. If you need to find content to watch, see the scheduling section above.

I Want to Attend a Plenary or Paper Session!

These instructions assume that you are logged in to the program website and are a registered attendee. Zoom links will only appear for logged in and registered attendees on the program web site!

Zoom links are associated with the session as papers may be presented in multiple sessions. First, find the session or paper that you want to attend. From the session page, you will see an "On-Air" link near the top of the page just below the session title. Clicking this button will open Zoom to the webinar in which this session is occuring. Note that the Zoom webinar will not be active until a few minutes before the session starts.

SIGCHI programs website: session view with on-air zoom link.

From the paper page, near the top you will the list of sessions in which the paper is being presented. Each session has its own "On-Air" link, and clicking one of these will open the Zoom webinar for that session. Again, note that the webinar may not be active until a few minutes before the session begins.

SIGCHI programs website: paper view with sessions, each with on-air zoom link.
I Want to Attend a Demo, Poster or Student Innovation Contest Session!

Screenshots coming soon!

The demo, poster and student innovation contest sessions are all taking place in breakout rooms within a Zoom meeting. Zoom meeting links for these sessions can be found in the the program website. Remember that you must be logged in to the web site, and a registered attendee, in order to see these links. Links will be visible on the demo session page, near the top just below the title.

Alternately, you can view a demo, poster or student innovation contest item directly and see the links for each session in the details box near the top of the page.

Once you are in the Zoom meeting, you will start in the main room where a slideshow is playing showing the demo content. You must move to a breakout room associated with the item that you are interested to meet its presenters. The exact way to do this varies depending on your Zoom client. For example, on an iPad a "Join Breakout Room" button will be present in the upper left corner of the screen. Tapping this button will present you with a list of rooms, from which you can select a room and tap "Join" to enter.

Zoom iPad: viewing list of breakout rooms before joining

Note that there will be more rooms in each demo session than are shown here, and you will likely need to scroll to see all of the options.

I Want to Attend The Social Hour or a Social Event

You should first find the social event you’d like to join on the official conference program and click on the button that says “ohyay” to access the secret link. The social hour events in the program are here. Don't forget that you need to be logged in as a registered attendee to see these links!

SIGCHI programs website: location of ohyay link on UIST social hour event.

Next you will be redirected to a page where you will be prompted to enter your name and give your camera and microphone access to your browser. Congratulations, welcome to our Ohyay social space!

Ohyay website: UIST front page with links to social hour lobby, social meetups lobby, and ask me anything sessions.

For more information about how to make best use of Ohyay, please refer to our How-to Ohyay document.

Social Hours will take place in Ohyay's immersive virtual networking space. Click on “Social Hour Lobby” to view the networking rooms, and join one of of the available ones.

Ohyay website: UIST social hour lobby showing 8 rooms that can be joined.

Social Meetups provide an opportunity for members of different research communities to socialize in a casual digital atmosphere to discuss their topics of interest. These appear in both the official conference program and on our website. Please be aware that some social meetups will take place on Ohyay, whereas some will take place on Zoom, depending on the organizer’s preference.

Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) sessions are also new this year, and will provide an opportunity to ask questions about academia-related important topics on Zoom. More information is available on our webpage. The Zoom links will be available through the official conference program.

I Want to Just "Linger in the Hallway"

There are two places to go if you just want to "hang out" or "linger in the hallway."

First is the Ohyay social hour lobby, described above, which has multiple video chat rooms of various sizes where you can meet with friends and colleagues.

Second, there are several social video channels in Discord which you can join. These are located in the "Social" category, which may be lower in your channel list, so scroll down until you find it.

Discord: list of social channel with the #awesome-attendee channel activated.

The video rooms have a little speaker icon next to their name. If you enter one of these rooms, you'll see a video conference experience similar to Zoom. Note that these rooms work best for up to 10 participants. For larger groups, you may want to try Ohyay.

Discord: Video conference view with the general chair saying hello.
I Want to Have a Private Conversation With My Colleagues

There are two ways to have a private conversation.

If you just want to have a text chat, you can send direct messages in Discord. There are many ways to start such a conversation, but one way is to find the person in the user list on the right of your Discord screen. Right-click on the user and select "Message" from the context menu that appears.

Discord: user context menu with Message select.

This will take you to the direct message view, where you can send a message. You can also create a group direct message including up to 10 other users.

Discord: direct message view.

Alternately, you can have private video chats on the Ohyay platform from the "Social Hour Lobby" room. First follow the instructions from above to get to Ohyay. Once there, you can create a private room by clicking the button at the bottom of the lobby.

Ohyay: button to create private room.

In the private room, you can invite other attendees by clicking on the “Invite Others” button on the top-left.

Ohyay: private room view.

You will then be prompted to add the attendees you want to invite to the room and a custom message that they will see in their invitation. Attendees you invited will see a message on their Ohyay screen asking them to join the room.

Ohyay: private invite flow from both sides.

I Want to Ask a Question!

Engagement and discussion are important for any conference, and unfortunately are made a little bit more difficult due to the virtual nature of the conference. Discord is the primary method for asking questions, although there is an alternate option for content that takes place on the Ohyay social platform.

I Want to Ask a Question in a Plenary or Paper Session!

If you are registered UIST attendee on Discord, you will see a category of channels called "Live Sessions." Each of these channels has a name corresponding to a room name in the conference program. When a presentation is going on within a room in the program, the corresponding channel is the place to go to ask questions.

Discord: Live session channel listing.

I Want to Ask a Question About Something That Isn't Being Presented Right Now!

If you are registered UIST attendee on Discord, you will see several channel categories that contain channels for every content item being presented at UIST. All of these categories start with "UIST2021-" and then the type of content.

Discord: Content channel categories listing.

Simply find the channel corresponding to the content item that you want to ask a question about, and then write your question in that channel. There are many channels, so you may find it easier to search using the Ctrl/Cmd-K keyboard shortcut.

If you have found the content in the program, there is a link that will take you directly to the Discord channel if you have the desktop Discord client installed. Simply find the Q&A link near the top of the page under the content title. Clicking this link will open Discord and the channel for the content item.

SIGCHI program website: paper view with Q&A icon at the top.
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