sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
As you probably know, I am one of a handful of people who run Access at WisCon. I've done this for a few years and learned a ton. Access initiatives at WisCon have largely been very successful and well-regarded.

Karen Moore recently went to WorldCon and was struck by the difference in the lack of accessibility there vs. at WisCon. She wrote us a letter to say so, and gave me permission to quote her letter in my blog. Excerpts from her letter follow:

----begin----

As difficult as it is to juggle 1,000 convention members through the Concourse Hotel’s [WisCon's event site] elevators, I have never seen a wheelchair or scooter user wait for 55 minutes to get onto an elevator at WisCon. I’ve seen that happen multiple times this weekend. It has never been necessary at WisCon to take one elevator to the ground floor, transfer to a second elevator to reach the below-ground floors, traverse a tunnel between two buildings to reach yet a third elevator in order to reach a different floor in the other building to go from one panel to the next. That is a frequent occurrence at WorldCon; in fact, one scooter user we spoke to had concluded that the best she could hope for was to be able to attend a panel in every other timeslot, because the lengthy waits at multiple elevators meant that it took her at least two full hours to navigate from one panel to the next one.

As much of a hurdle it was to move awareness of access into the forefront of people’s consciousness at WisCon, you achieved that very effectively, with announcements, signage, blue tape and multiple other means of communicating to the able-bodied that perhaps taking the stairs would not be a huge burden, and that it would be worthwhile to do so to free up elevator space for those who cannot move between floors in any other way. At WorldCon, there was nary a whisper of such messages, save for a brief blurb titled “Be Kind to your Wheel-Footed Friends” in the Saturday newsletter – and that was AFTER I buttonholed the con chair on Friday afternoon and gave him merry hell about it.

As challenging as it is to finagle a wheelchair/scooter parking spot in some of those oddly-shaped meeting rooms at the Concourse, you still manage to do so in every single one. There is absolutely NO awareness of the need for wheelie/scooter parking spaces at WorldCon. Wheelchair/scooter users are on their own to try to squeeze into space, move chairs around, and try to find a spot to settle.

And even though it is far from ideal for wheelchair/scooter users to have to use that little elevator to navigate the half-flight of stairs to reach the last two panel rooms on the first floor, at least there IS an elevator. There is at least one room in WorldCon’s venue that can ONLY be accessed if one can climb stairs, and they programmed events in that room in every single time slot of the entire con.

And finally, as much pushback as I know Access has gotten from within the committee over its mission, at least none of WisCon’s concom (that I know of) has ever seriously suggested developing an entire track of programming that doesn’t exist, located in a room that doesn’t exist, and then put the damn thing in the pocket program book, the online program and everywhere else. Evidently, someone in the WorldCon committee finds it immensely amusing to think of a convention member with no cartilage left in his hips struggling painfully down multiple escalators, across the tunnel, up more escalators, then searching through a maze of corridors for a program event, only to find a sign that essentially says “Ha, ha, gotcha, Sucker!” The con chair heard from me on that topic as well, by the way. His response? “Well, I’m sorry you don’t see the humor in it.”

-----end-------

WorldCon does have an accessibility department, but it sounds like it is not succeeding. It also sounds like, from this last paragraph, that the ConCom trolled its own membership.

I repost this here not to pick on WorldCon or to cause drama, but rather to say, here is a problem, at this covention and at others. What can we do to work on addressing this problem?

Initiatives at WisCon succeeded because of committed activists and allies. I suspect that each convention will need insiders on their con coms to bring initiatives forward-- that change will have to come from the inside.

At one convention that I won't name at present, I think that criticism around accessibility caused a very strong backlash, and that comparisons to WisCon only made the backlash worse. We were seen as condescending outsiders to their in group. My own perspective is that I have practical experience that I want to share, but, the criticism was not taken as constructive and relationships were damaged.

This is not my intention here. Better access improves things for everyone involved, and it is not as hard to implement as one might think.

Thoughts?

Date: 2012-09-03 06:45 pm (UTC)
neotoma: Spock explains rocks to McCoy (stupidity)
From: [personal profile] neotoma
developing an entire track of programming that doesn’t exist, located in a room that doesn’t exist, and then put the damn thing in the pocket program book, the online program and everywhere else.

...what?! I currently have no mobility issues, but I'd still resent the hell out of a concom who thought wasting my time in such a way (and thus making me miss panels that actually exist) was a hilarious joke. That was incredibly unprofessional on someone's part.

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Date: 2012-09-03 07:05 pm (UTC)
trouble: Sketch of Hermoine from Harry Potter with "Bookworms will rule the world (after we finish the background reading)" on it (Default)
From: [personal profile] trouble
"“Be Kind to your Wheel-Footed Friends” in the Saturday newsletter"

... What, like they're puppies?

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But it has to be funny

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Re: But it has to be funny

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Date: 2012-09-03 07:16 pm (UTC)
kalmn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kalmn
I've seen other cons do the fake program track thing, but it's been pretty obvious that they've been fake. Staffed by dead people, at cons over time change weekend on the hour that doesn't exist, in a room that doesn't exist, but that only works if most of your attendees know your hotel inside out.

Stagg Field track

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Date: 2012-09-03 07:40 pm (UTC)
holli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] holli
Wow. I was at Dragoncon this weekend, and while there were some issues (I noticed the parking deck at our hotel was completely inaccessible), there's marked-off disability seating and disability waiting areas in all the the large panel rooms where one might have to wait in line or have trouble parking a wheelchair or scooter. The elevators aren't fun, but people are good about making room for those who need them and letting them go first. And a fake track? That's just mean-spirited.

Date: 2012-09-03 09:24 pm (UTC)
viklikesfic: avatar me w/ trans flag, spiky hair, gender unclear, fun punky glasses & sarcastic expression to go w/purple ironic halo (Default)
From: [personal profile] viklikesfic
Never been to either of these cons, but out of curiosity I took a look at both WisCon and WorldCon's sites and was not surprised to find a stark difference in the most basic framing. WorldCon uses the term "disability," it takes a few minutes to find that area of the site, and it makes reference to "special needs." Wiscon uses words like "universal design" and "access." I think a lot of people bounce back on the social model of disability if they've never heard of it because folks with no access needs (or with needs that are met by "normal" spaces) are comfortable in the world we live in and don't like the idea of such massive change, rather than a la carte change. But this story about WorldCon makes it pretty clear to me that a la carte just doesn't work.

It was a long time before I recognized my own access needs and their validity because the world is designed in a way that needs are termed "special," and it doesn't always feel like my needs are "important enough" for "special" access. I bet there are a lot of folks like this, who would take advantage of access that was offered just par for the course but wouldn't know to bring it up elsewhere. At a recent con I attended a PWD gathering where we started introductions with name, pronouns, and any access needs--about 1/3 of the group stated that they weren't sure what their access needs were because they were so new to being asked and hadn't had time to think about and name their needs. The first time I used ASL interpretation was at a con where many interpreters were available and some friends encouraged me to ask because I was really frustrated trying to hear in a workshop and couldn't focus on the content. I timidly asked, and though I hadn't requested interpreters, the coordinator was kind, helpful, and figured out a way to get me a team for the day and then hired additional interpreters the next day. My access was far better and I came away with a really good feeling about the event.

Of course, it's not always financially feasible to provide interpreters, and it is usually the more expensive, larger cons that can provide the ideal access of interpreters for every workshop. But even comparing WisCon and WorldCon on this, I notice that WorldCon emphasizes that interpreters may be available for some events and that they will not be paid. WisCon's policy seems to be a "we'll do our best!" which if not ideal is a better approach than "hey, uh, anyone want to volunteer?"

I'm considering saving up to go to WisCon one day, and I'm glad to see that y'all are at least putting forth a serious effort on access and framing it as a natural, common need for the whole con population rather than a "special" thing.

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or, be careful what you ask for ...

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Re: or, be careful what you ask for ...

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Date: 2012-09-04 03:36 am (UTC)
chomiji: Akari, the shaman from SDK ... more to her than you might imagine  (Akari - autumn colors)
From: [personal profile] chomiji

The Worldcon site was definitely awkward re: mobility. To get from registration to the Art Show, for example, required going up one level, across a connection bridge to a second building, and then down one level.

Date: 2012-09-04 06:49 pm (UTC)
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
I ran into Lee Martindale while she was waiting for an elevator from 2 West to 3 West for a panel, and she said that the bathroom on that floor (outside Crystal Ballroom) was the only ACTUALLY accessible handicapped stall. Most of them were rather...narrow. No space for wheelies at all. More the "person with minor mobility issues who needs a bar to stand back up" than an actual accessible stall, really.

The hotel itself had issues; I wonder if that's the best-suited convention space in Chicago... (I don't live there, so I can't say).

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Tape?

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Date: 2012-09-04 06:45 am (UTC)
gehayi: (barbara the disgruntled (modestroad))
From: [personal profile] gehayi
While both of the hotels for next year's WorldCon (LoneStarCon 3) speak of being accessible, it doesn't look like WorldCon has much in the way of disability services. According to the site, this is what they've got:

Handicapped Services: Sally Woerhle
Staff: Bill Thomasson

Two people doesn't seem like much for a con this size. I'd also like to mention that the WorldCon Greenhorn page doesn't even mention any of the following:

* accessibility
* handicaps
* disabilities
* wheelchairs
* walkers
* crutches
* canes
* elevators
* stairs
* ramps
* deafness
* interpreters
* blindness
* Braille
* epilepsy (which can be a real problem in presentations that feature flashing or rhythmic lights)
* service animals
* pain

It doesn't sound as if it occurred to anyone that any first-time attendees might not be in perfect physical shape...even though it should have.

Apparently any questions not answered on the site should be addressed here:

info@lonestarcon3.org

Which I hope that some people will. It looks as if this year's disaster might not be a one-off.

Edited Date: 2012-09-04 06:46 am (UTC)

looking further ahead....

Date: 2012-09-05 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
London doesn't mention much in the way of services either. I have moderately high hopes- because I think they are using facilites built for the Olympics (and Paralymics) but that's no guarantee.
https://www.loncon3.org/

Looking further out to Spokane Vs. Orlando (which will be voted on next summer),
One of the prime selling point of the Orlando site is accessibility (golf cart shuttles around an enclosed ground), they already have been thinking about fans with disabilities.
(Spokane looks pretty cool too, but I can see how "its all so walkable" raises red flags for people who have concerns about either mobility and wayfinding.

http://www.spokanein2015.org/wordpress/
http://www.orlandoin2015.org/

Re: looking further ahead....

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Venues for change

Date: 2012-09-04 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] selkiechick
I am going to SMOFcon this December, (a convention about how to run conventions, with specific focus on Worldcons) specifically to talk to other people about access. May I print out, refer to, and discuss this post when I go?

Selkie
(Access Services, Arisia)

Re: Venues for change

Date: 2012-09-04 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm the person who emailed Sasha the original letter quoted in the first post (I'm not a blogger so am responding anonymously). I can't speak for Sasha, but I at least would be ECSTATIC if you'd pass this along for discussion at SMOFcon. I'd also recommend taking along some of the details from WisCon's Access page, which may not be perfect but I think probably comes closer than many or most F/SF cons extant. In a perfect world, other cons, and particularly the oldest, biggest and most important con for the entire genre, would emulate WisCon's fine example of providing near-universal access to members.

It's really, really hard to integrate the understanding and implementation of access needs across the board among all departments involved in putting on a convention. It requires a major cultural shift, one that often means multiple years of incremental improvements, and inevitably there is pushback from others on the committee who just don't perceive it as a priority. But using that as an excuse to do nothing is no excuse at all; any change, any improvement, even in baby steps, is progress.

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Date: 2012-09-05 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kradical.livejournal.com
Of course, one of the problems that will always be an issue is that WorldCon is in a different venue every year, and always in a venue that the committee is working with for the first (and last) time for that show. That makes it considerably more difficult to work out the kinks, or even know what all the kinks are. WisCon and Dragon*Con have had the advantage of using the same venue for years to make sure that all is well.

This is not to excuse anything, but WorldCons will always have more trouble dealing with those kinds of issues by the very nature of the con.

Date: 2012-09-05 06:37 pm (UTC)
fjm: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fjm
DragonCon was the worst convention I've ever attended for attitudes to the disabled.I saw someone pushed away (ie his chair pushed) from an elevator.

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Date: 2012-09-05 06:36 pm (UTC)
fjm: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fjm
I use a pedometer because I actually have to walk for my disability. I was covering close to five miles a day and it was a lot more complicated than it needed to be. Too many routes involved secondary routes for chair users, rather than actually being accessible.

Date: 2012-09-05 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] paradoox
There was really nothing they could have done about the multiple (three) elevators needed; at least I don't think there was. The builders could have made things much better by making the lower level elevators in the West Tower go up to level two. Then, I think it would have been possible to get between any two locations with "only" two elevators. But once the building were built ... And they couldn't not use one of the towers because that wouldn't have given them enough rooms. In a sense it is easier for a smaller convention in one venue. This Worldcon really should have been looked at as being in two hotels connected by a couple of walkways.

As to the joke program items, I think it was a Chicago "in" joke that fell very flat. Why they felt they need to do it in the first place, I don't know.

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Date: 2012-09-06 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naomikritzer.livejournal.com
I'm able-bodied, but found myself assessing the access at the con a couple of times. (My original roommate was going to be Haddayr Copley-Woods, before she decided not to come, and she uses a wheelchair part time.) I compared it unfavorably to Wiscon, but VERY favorably to Convergence, which is the con local to me that's around the same size as WorldCon (they get about 6,000 people/year).

The fundamental problem is that when you want to accommodate 5,000 to 6,000 people, there's a limited number of hotel options. The Hyatt was at least designed for that many people, which gives it an advantage over the hotel Convergence is held at. (There simply AREN'T any hotels in the Twin Cities that are really big enough on their own for something like this.)

I would really like to come up with some elevator policies that basically say, "hey, if you're in an elevator going down and someone with a mobility problem needs to get on, people who can take the stairs need to GET OFF." The problem is that the elevator stops and opens only very briefly, and looking out, assessing people's mobility, and offering up one's spot is a pretty complex operation (not to mention, it doesn't do much for people whose disabilities aren't instantly visible). I mean, I could take the stairs, and did, at one point -- but coming down 22 floors left me with a pretty bad muscle strain (somewhat to my surprise) and it's not inherently unreasonable to want to take the elevator down even if you're not disabled.

I'm not sure how to solve this problem, but I would really like to -- not only for WorldCons, but for other cons with elevator crunches (which is to say, most cons).

Date: 2012-09-06 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naomikritzer.livejournal.com
Also, I think I've said this in person, but I want to reiterate -- Wiscon was where I learned about the concept of Universal Design, and I found it a revolutionary way to approach not only access but a lot of other issues. (I wrote in my blog at some point about applying universal design principals to anti-bullying programs -- if you build a safe school for the QUILTBAG kids, it will also be safer for the kids who are straight and cis gendered but socially awkward or unfashionably dressed or in general out of step with the mainstream.)

I'm able-bodied and the universal design approach of Wiscon has significantly improved my con experience there. (THE TRAFFIC LANES ON THE PARTY FLOOR. OMG. <3 <3 <3 Even things like the way signs are posted to make it more efficient to find rooms are awesome. But it's the traffic lanes that really sum up for me the beauty of universal design, because _everyone_ loves them, even though lots of people have to be hounded occasionally to get them out of the traffic lane and into the parking lane.)

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Date: 2012-09-06 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mariness
And since 37 comments have failed to mention this so far, and this is a particular bugbear of mine --

To access the stage for the Hugo Awards, winners had to climb up three steps. Before the live feed came on, I saw at least three people have difficulty navigating the steps. And I did not see one visible ramp.

After I posted about this on Twitter and LJ, I was informed that oh, yes, yes, there was indeed a ramp. It was HIDDEN BEHIND A CURTAIN, so dark that able bodied people had to be guided down it and even with that there were difficulties, and was set up under the (probably correct) assumption that Hugo winners would be so delighted and out of it that they would fall off the stage if it wasn't there.

Why am I annoyed about this? Because the Nebulas went out of their way to provide a ramp. The Democratic National Convention has both stairs and a ramp to their stage (it's all back access; I saw this when the CNN cameras were following Obama and Clinton last night.) Hell, the Republican National Convention, which is definitely NOT going for the disability vote and as far as I know had no disabled speakers, HAD A RAMP. (I will credit Ann Romney's influence there.) So did the Oscars which, again, not the first event to come to mind when thinking disability friendliness.

This is, I realize, minor compared to the elevator and other issues. I really do get that. But the plain fact is that many authors and fans and editors and authors use mobility scooters and wheelchairs -- this is definitely not just me -- and a ramp should BE THERE ALL ALONG, not just thrown up if and when one of us is nominated for an award.

#

My experience with Dragoncon pre wheelchair was that it was the least disabled friendly space I'd seen in some time. I understand some aspects have been improved, in particular disabled seating and some issues with the Sheraton, but I ended up not going to Dragoncon this year because the Hyatt hotel is reportedly still very, very difficult to navigate if, like me, you can't use escalators :(

#

Er. Sorry for ranting all over your space. I will shut up now.

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First Worldcon

Date: 2012-09-06 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've never done a Worldcon before, and I was pretty annoyed at the lack of elevator staffing. Having seen at least two people with walkers get shoved aside and somebody on a scooter just being ignored--that's just so unacceptable you can't see acceptable from there. Con-goers were trying to do their best on the "Hey, let's make room here..." but some people are so damn oblivious and you can't physically haul them out of the elevator for being a dick. (Well, I can't.)

I do a number of cons, and year after year, con after con, the thing I really notice is "Do you have somebody from security manning the elevators? Why the hell not?" It can't fix a lot of these issues, but it makes life a lot easier.

Re: First Worldcon

Date: 2012-09-06 04:09 pm (UTC)
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
There was a hotel staffer outside the elevators on the second floor of the east tower during a lot of the day, and sometimes on the first floor. (I didn't go to the west tower often enough to assess their elevators.) But not always. And only on the main floors, not the room floors or the convention floors.

Which is better than Dragon*Con, but could still be improved mightily.

Re: First Worldcon

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2012-09-07 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-09-06 08:15 pm (UTC)
readsalot: (ahiru as girl looks curious [Princess Tu)
From: [personal profile] readsalot
I'm on the staff for LoneStarCon3--is it ok if I point people at this entry?

Date: 2012-09-06 08:23 pm (UTC)
cogitationitis: Clip art from Arts & Letters (Default)
From: [personal profile] cogitationitis
I was incensed that the traditional Fannish Inquisition panel was in a room that was not only way too small, with a noisy and badly working air conditioner, it was up three steps. Considering the moderator used a scooter, and that one poor (one-legged) woman had to bump her way backwards up said steps to attend, I can't even imagine why they used that room at all--or if they had to, they should have at least used it for a generally more mobile population, like for the teen lounge.

On the plus side, all future Worldcons and bids are in ADA-compliant facilities. Although it's possible that Helsinki (a 2015 bid) may not have some ADA-compliant hotels--once they pin down the hotels. And if a New Orleans in 2018 bid materializes, there may be some outlier hotels which are also non-compliant.

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From: [personal profile] avendya - Date: 2012-09-07 03:47 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-09-06 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] paradoox
The ramp at Chicago was an example of how separate is not equal or how accommodations need to as equal / equivalent as possible. I will fully believe that every acceptor at the Hugos was told that there was a ramp. BUT, IT WAS IN THE BACK AND IT WAS OUT OF THE WAY, AND PEOPLE WOULD HAVE HAD TO DISAPPEAR FROM VIEW FOR MINUTES TO USE THE RAMP ON THE WAY TO ACCEPT A HUGO. And that is not to mention that the ramp was dark. Thus, I suspect that a lot of people who would have used the ramp if it was convenient and close to the stairs chose to use the stairs instead even if it was hard for them. Yes, the ramp was probably in the back to save room for more chairs. But, that isn't really a good reason. In hindsight, it should have been in the front.

Date: 2012-09-06 11:36 pm (UTC)
amberfox: picture from the Order of Hermes tradition book for Mage: The Awakening, subgroup House Shaea (Default)
From: [personal profile] amberfox
My friend Dustin just asked me to find out when Dallas Comic-Con is this year. Having been following this thread, a couple of things caught my eye immediately when I pulled up the site. The first was simply that it's not well designed; I had a hard time figuring out where the information I wanted was, and several of the links don't work at all. (The main page also has autoplay, which sent me diving for my Mute button.)

The second response involved more random characters; the main program page is a picture, which means I can't enlarge the text, or highlight it, or change it in any way. My eyesight is relatively decent with my glasses on and I was *still* leaning in to about a foot from the monitor to read the names of guests. (I fell back on my usual response to bad design, Readability, but since the information was all on a picture, it didn't help.)

Date: 2012-09-06 11:54 pm (UTC)
amberfox: picture from the Order of Hermes tradition book for Mage: The Awakening, subgroup House Shaea (Default)
From: [personal profile] amberfox
Okay.... Apparently that was the May site, which is still up for some unknown reason. The October site is here. The schedule isn't out despite the con being in mid-October, but at least the list of guests is in text this time? 10pt text, but text.... (I'll be honest. It's really crappy.)

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Date: 2012-09-07 04:36 am (UTC)
whump: QR code for "http://whump.dreamwidth.org/" (Default)
From: [personal profile] whump
One suggestion: take the room parties out of the guest rooms and penthouse parlors, and put them on the ground and mezzanine levels of the convention center and hotels. Abled-bodied members can walk a flight or two of stairs and save the elevators for those who need them to go up or down a level.

London in 2014's planning to have the parties at the convention center, but that does mean changes for how you use space in the evening, and negotiations over catering. But we're Fandom and we know how to negotiate hotel contracts.

Date: 2012-09-07 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Just something - I'm not attending London because I find the city in general to be painfully inaccessible & expensive for wheelchair users. The Tube is hardly accessible at all unless you're travelling between specific stations. London buses have the appearance of accessibility, but a lot of the attitudes involved between non-disabled bus users & drivers who don't want to take the time to get down their ramps make it awkward. Accessible taxis tend to cost twice as much as other taxis. If you just go in the street to get where you're going - if you even can all the way - people don't look where they're going, they walk into you, etc. I just don't ever visit London if I can possibly avoid it. Birmingham is little better for the same purposes, though I live in Manchester and have an easier time in my chair at home. But I hate, hate, HATE London from an accessibility POV. The place gives me panic attacks.

Someday there'll be a WorldCon somewhere I can afford to go AND physically manage... Someday. For the meantime, it's Discworld Con, Starfury & possibly EuroCon (Dublin) for me. Sigh. Being excluded by inaccessibility is a stressful thing. Particularly when you're not 30 yet & people assume you have to be older to be using a wheelchair.

- Trialia, who can't seem to log in.

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From: [personal profile] readsalot - Date: 2012-09-07 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

London

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2012-09-18 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: London

From: [personal profile] feuervogel - Date: 2012-09-22 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-09-07 03:35 pm (UTC)
izzybelbooks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] izzybelbooks
I'm able-bodied and the amount of fail I noticed about Access at this year's WorldCon was ridiculous, especially given the large number of folks that need Access. It was yet another list of things to add to the fail list, so I wasn't really surprised, which is sad. It definitely made me miss WisCon and made me realize just how spoiled I am to be part of a community that actually cares about its members and puts its money where its mouth is in terms of making Access a priority for all.

It felt weird to go to panels and not see blue tape on the chairs in the front row, strange to not have parking spaces for scooters, rude not to have signs reminding folks to take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible. During one panel in the room with stairs, I got up to shut the door because the hallway was noisy, and there was a woman in a scooter at the bottom of the stairs, trying to hear the panel, so we left the door open. I was so furious that this poor woman had to sit outside. It just felt wrong. Access was framed as Disability Services, hence no one but Disabled people (you know, those people) needed to worry about it. Ugh.

I did mention this to Disability Services directly, and I brought it up on the Fandom's Blind Spots panel, but given the Worldcon culture, I am not holding out any hope for a WisCon-like atmosphere any time soon, although I hear London is taking this seriously for 2013. We'll see.

Date: 2012-09-07 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The hotel for the Chicago WorldCon was a pain even if one was in good health and had no mobility problems. I'm in the "I'm not disabled, I'm just old" group (which has its own set of accessibility issues). I never made it to the party floors, as the 20-30 minute wait just to get on the elevator put me in so much pain that I got off at my room and stayed there.

Three things that would have really helped me:

1. A way to sit down and not get bumped out of lines. (I may end up getting a walker for other cons for just that reason.)
2. Better signage. The type on the room signs showing what events were in them was way too small to read without getting up on top of them.
3. Better 'color coding' on the pocket programs. At least there was a legend which LOOKED like some of the events had been color coded somewhere, but all the grays looked alike to my eyes. Try a crosshatch or other textured fill next time, guys.

Me, too

Date: 2012-09-19 03:55 pm (UTC)
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
From: [personal profile] mme_hardy
I can't stand for long periods either. I bought this cane that folds out into a sling-seat. It has been a Godsend in so many contexts, from county fairs to grocery stores. It's lightweight but still, of course, adds to your overall carrying burden. Sigh.

Cons should be addressing "how not to make people stand up who can't", but I find this cane increases my ability to cope.

Chicon's Stagg Field

Date: 2012-09-07 05:11 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I was staffing Chicon from Soldier Field, directly next to the putative location of Stagg Field. As a result I handled a number of puzzled people looking for panels they had become excited about. I feel very badly for those who were tricked into coming out for a hoax. I tried to express my own displeasure about the situation to sympathize with those people so impacted. I didn't think it was funny either.

Jason M. Robertson
Minor Gopher Staffer, Chicon 7
i.redag@gmail.com

Re: Chicon's Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon's Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon&#39;s Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon&#39;s Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon&#39;s Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon's Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon's Stagg Field

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Re: Chicon&#39;s Stagg Field

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Linked

Date: 2012-09-08 06:10 am (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, in front of a wall and a brown poster. (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
Just wanted to let you know I linked to this in a discussion of WorldCons and inclusivity. Thank you.

Absolutely appalled

Date: 2012-09-08 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Visiting from ML (due to brainwane's link), and I have to say I'm gobsmacked that in 2012, accessibility is still something so many places are doing wrong, or not doing at all. I am, at the moment, able-bodied, and it's been years since I was any kind of con (and the ones I attended were usually Star Trek-related), but via ML I'm finding out about more and different types.

And the idea that the "big dog" of the con world would think inconveniencing people (at minimum) with a fake program track is a joke? That they'd have a con that size in a hotel that sounds like it was designed by an architect who'd never seen anyone use a wheelchair, or maybe that the hotel company tromped on any more access-positive designs (probably due to costs)?

Bloody hell. I think part of the evaluation process for a con hotel/convention center ought to include "walkthroughs" of the venues by people using scooters or wheelchairs, at the very least, so that accessibility issues and any workarounds can be pointed out on the website as soon as possible.

Syd

Date: 2012-09-10 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] xiphias
I noticed several years back that accessibility appears to have two parts: the physical makeup of the area, and the social and human ability to consider the issues.

A few years ago, Arisia in Boston was at a quirky Hyatt which is built something like a ziggaraut. It is gorgeous, and has quite a bit of charm, and is physically completely inappropriate for the kinds of traffic patters that a con has. And the place was NOT built with accessibility as a concern.

This caused major problems, of course. But fewer, and less serious, than at many other cons, because both the con runners and the hotel staff went out of their way to try to deal with the problems, both proactively and reactively. Actual thought went into how to mitigate the problems, actual resources went into trying to solve them.

The results weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and Arisia has since moved to a different hotel. But I was impressed by how much LESS serious the problems were than they might have been.

Date: 2012-09-10 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
^^^ This!

WisCon is held in a venue that is less than perfectly ideal for access needs. But WisCon's committee (the ENTIRE committee, not just the Access department) goes to extraordinary lengths to embrace access needs and implement changes in every facet of the convention, from registration to con suite to programming to hotel liaison work to publications. And the committee also provides near-continual reminders to the entire community in attendance throughout the con of the importance of respecting access needs, including "how to be a useful ally" information.

At least in my eyes, this is what raises a decently accessible event to an exceptional one. And there was absolutely none of that at WorldCon this year, despite the fact that the known deficiencies of the venue made it even more critical than it is at other events. That is the crux of my dismay (fury) with the WorldCon committee: as bad as their venue was for access, they didn't care enough about the percentage of their members who absolutely required access accommodations in order to fully experience the convention to do any kind of adjustments, or even to remind members to be supportive/helpful until they were reminded that it might be a good idea.

And in the year 2012, that is Just Plain Wrong.

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