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New accessibility and disability policy

Some conventions – the 2014 World Fantasy Convention in DC, for instance – have worked to ensure that disabled members have full access to the convention.

Others have not.

Thanks to far too many examples of the latter, I have decided not to attend conventions that do not offer an accessibility statement on the convention website, and/or a written statement to me guaranteeing disability access, and offering specifics about that disability access.

I will also no longer be attending conventions that do not provide access ramps to stages.

I am, granted, only a very small voice in fandom, but I'm a very small voice that can no longer use my money and time to support conventions that cannot take the time to ensure that I can fully participate in the con.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
swan_tower
Nov. 10th, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)
I'll be making my own post about this in a little bit, but the short form is: cosigned. Saying that "I don't need a ramp, therefore it doesn't matter to me" would be kind of like "well I've never been harassed at a con, therefore a harassment policy doesn't matter to me." Either one is b.s.; I need to start paying better attention to these issues.
mariness
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
I do as well. I think by not having this policy, and attending cons anyway and giving them my money/time, I've somewhat contributed to the problem.

Though I did attend Saratoga this year in part because DC was fine last year.
swan_tower
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
Right, it's one of the weirdnesses of WFC: because it's a different con-com in each place, good policy one year is no guarantee of good policy the next. Whereas a local con is more likely to have consistency from year to year.
cardinalximinez
Nov. 10th, 2015 04:57 pm (UTC)
*applause*
mariness
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
I expect you're almost as tired of the complaining as I am.
cardinalximinez
Nov. 10th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)
No, I'm tired of the need for the complaining.
ravena_kade
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC)
It is a good policy
mariness
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Honestly, though, it's more borne out of exhaustion than anything else.
MaryRobinette
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
Co-signed.

I'd love to see this be a formal pledge that other authors sign onto, ala Scalzi's harassment policy. Is it okay if I try to make that happen?
mariness
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
Sure!
swan_tower
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:40 pm (UTC)
I've been drafting a post of mine in exactly that vein; I'm just waiting to hear back from a friend so I can determine what measures I'm going to decree are necessary before I'll attend. (Things like ramps up to stages, but not limited to that.) I'll definitely sign onto anything others post.
mg4h
Nov. 10th, 2015 05:49 pm (UTC)
Hi, random person here from Scalzi's tweet about this. Could I suggest something along the lines of if the only accessible way to get there is much longer than the non-accessible path, anyone in a manual wheelchair, or otherwise having to propel themselves, will be hurt worse than no accessiblity at all. "Oh you can get into this building - go around the back!" Repeat ad infinitum and you have much pain for folks.
swan_tower
Nov. 10th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
I'm actually looking for more than that, though what you describe is part of it, too. FOGcon, which is local to me, does things like using tape to mark off wheelchair space in panel rooms, and tape-reserving some front-row seats for those with hearing difficulties. Basically, there are a lot of things cons can do, and many of them are cheap and easy to implement (others not so much, like hiring ASL interpreters if there's no volunteer willing to do it for free). I need to decide where the line is for me between "this is non-negotiable" and "this is awesome if you can do it, but I'll attend even if you can't."
mariness
Nov. 10th, 2015 06:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the problem is that I only know about wheelchair issues. I'm not deaf, for instance, and have no idea what deaf or hard of hearing attendees might need.

Edited at 2015-11-10 06:18 pm (UTC)
mariness
Nov. 10th, 2015 06:02 pm (UTC)
That was definitely a problem with this con - the two lobby levels were connected with stairs, and then also with an access ramp that was very much off to the side. (Also, the top of the access ramp was difficult for me personally to navigate without assistance.)
elisem
Nov. 10th, 2015 08:14 pm (UTC)
Cosigned.

Also, I agree with those who say it's more than just having a policy. I want cons to have an accessibility policy and implement it promptly and well, just like I want cons to have good codes of conduct with good procedures which they follow well and fairly.
swan_tower
Nov. 10th, 2015 08:32 pm (UTC)
Definitely. Having the policy in the first place is just step one.
magentamn
Nov. 11th, 2015 12:23 am (UTC)
Wiscon has an accessibilty policy, though it seems to be from 2014.
http://www.wiscon.info/access.php
The Madison Concourse remodeled that year, causing difficulties that may or may not have been resolved - I didn't make it there this year. I've been there many times, and they are more aware than most cons I know of.
eeanm
Nov. 11th, 2015 07:46 am (UTC)
Ramps
At a session at LonCon some lipreaders had to ask the panelists to standup when talking because of the lack of stage. Maybe LonCon made the right choice in deciding to go stageless in most rooms instead of rampless but reasonable people could disagree.
mariness
Nov. 11th, 2015 08:25 am (UTC)
Re: Ramps
To clarify: I don't object to stages. What I object to is STAGES WITHOUT RAMPS.

Why? Well, you've pointed out the problem yourself: lipreaders cannot see people on the floor, which means that lipreaders would be able to see everyone on the stage, but not me, even though I was on the panel. This strikes me as a problem for both groups.

And yes, in general, if a room is large enough to require a stage, it is also large enough to fit a ramp. This was exactly the case at WFC 2015, where ramps WERE available for both rooms, which I confirmed with the facilities staff - the con just didn't pay for them.

But instead of arguing about which need is greater, I would rather see us focusing on offering panels that meet the needs of BOTH wheelchair users and lipreaders. It seems to me that a stage (for the lipreaders) with a ramp (for the wheelchair users) fits both needs. In smaller rooms that cannot fit a ramp, reserving seats in the first few rows for lipreaders is another possible approach. I see no need to prioritize one need over the other.

Especially since they aren't always distinct groups - I know at least one powerchair user who also lipreads, and I doubt he's the only one.
fbhjr
Nov. 12th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
Given how tough it is on you, this seems very sensible.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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