sasha_feather: sirius black from harry potter films (sirius black)
I bought a used Xbox 360 at the thrift store a few months ago, which has opened up to me the world of gaming. My roommate and I have been enjoying Lego Harry Potter. We started with years 5-7 which I found in a bargain bin, and then moved on to years 1-4.

The game is easy for us to learn, whimsical and funny. It's just plain fun to run around Hogwarts and revisit the story. There are a few parts that are tricky / fussy, especially timed jumping. I realize that platform jumping is a gaming tradition going back to Frogger and Donkey Kong, but it is not friendly to people with arthritis or dexterity issues. I wish games would rely on it less, or have easy jumping modes. Last night I spent way too long trying to jump over a required barrier and got frustrated.

Lego HP requires little to no reading and no listening. Information is conveyed through pictures. So, you can play with the sound off and you don't need captions. There is one game aspect where it's helpful to distinguish red from green (Parseltongue cabinets), but not strictly required. The parts where you fight a "boss" (often at the end of levels) tend to be much easier with two players. This game can be played with one player, but seems designed for two players. Levels are not timed-sensitive-- in fact you're rewarded if you spend more time looking around and exploring. You can't save mid-level, though, so if your game freezes or you have to leave for some reason, you will have to replay that bit of the story.

For my roommate and I--we are novice newbie gamers-- Lego HP has been a really great entry point. I definitely recommend it.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
I have been getting more into gaming lately. It's the best thing to do when I'm especially ill because it distracts me from feeling terrible, and it's just plain fun. Naturally, I think about accessibility in gaming.

I usually play with the sound off because I'm not super into the music on games. When on my PC, I'll listen to my own music while playing. I have arthritis and some dexterity-driven games are not for me. Very stressful games aren't for me either. The games below, I played on PC and purchased through Steam.

Stardew Valley: This is a wonderful, low-key game that involves farming, fishing, mining, and scavenging, and occasionally interacting with villagers. You can play at your own pace and sound is not required. I use my mouse left-handed*, and this game is designed for a Right handed mouse. Although I found a page for switching keyboard commands, I couldn't find a way to switch the mouse buttons. I ended up leaving the mouse button commands alone and still playing Left handed, and switching the keyboard commands to accommodate my right hand being on the keyboard. Fishing is difficult and requires dexterity. However, there's a mod that makes all fishing easy. I downloaded and installed this mod with the help of some internet tutorials. I played this game a lot and it was very relaxing.

Undertale: I gave up on this game mostly because it requires high dexterity. I admit that the art wasn't really my style either.

Never Alone: I gave this a try and it was rather stressful, as it involves a lot of running away from polar bears and such. The game play is also sometimes difficult and requires dexterity, and again I was using left handed mouse which didn't seem natural for the default controls. It's very beautiful and I might try again someday, but my favorite part were the "cultural insights" (Northern indigenous people talking about their cultures) which I could probably just watch on YouTube.

*I am not technically left-handed; but I have pain in my right shoulder so made this switch years ago. These days my left hand is my "good hand".

post is to be continued as I have more games to write about!

some links

Feb. 20th, 2015 11:22 am
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
A friend of mine had an article published in the Atlantic, exploring the "watchmaker" metaphor used by some people interested in intelligent design. A Failed Metaphor for Intelligent Design by Adam Shapiro. This information-packed article explores how the metaphor suited the British society from which it arose.

A really thoughtful, wonderful article by a woman who chose to have a double mastectomy (vs. a single). Contains some partially-nude photographs. shirts off, underwear on: play out, breast cancer and gender expectations by Melanie Testa.

Doing Science Sitting Down, and other thoughts about Universal Design by [ profile] jacquelyngill.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Pursuant to my post about conferences, I've been thinking about how making events affordable is an access issue.

Making your event affordable attracts people of different classes and backgrounds and locations. It also makes your event more welcoming to disabled folks / PWD. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor for structural, societal reasons. Being disabled can affect a person's earning potential due to discrimination and impairment-related reasons; it also is just plain expensive. For me, for example: There are co-pays on prescriptions and doctor appointments; health services that are not covered by insurance; supplements to buy; expensive shoes that don't hurt my feet; the list goes on and on. For people on special diets, food can be more expensive. A 2008 study found gluten-free products to be much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Worry about money is a near-constant source of stress for many people, and some studies link this stress to negative health effects.

If we are planning events, what can we do to help make them more affordable?

Here are some ideas:

Registration and Programming
Sliding scale registrations; day memberships
Member Assistance Fund or Scholarships
ConSuite (hospitality suite)
Free Childcare
Kid, Teen, Youth programming tracks at fan conventions so people can bring their kids
Rebates or refunds for volunteering or presenting

List area hostels
Have a room share board on social media

Provide cab vouchers and/or mass transit fees so people can get back to their lodging late at night
Have a ride share board
Choose a venue that is on bus or mass transit lines

List local restaurants, grocery stores, and markets. Note if the markets accept food stamps. note if the grocery stores deliver.
Note if they hotel has fridges or microwaves in the rooms or lobby.

Look for grants and sponsorships to help off set costs.
Ask for donated items for prizes and gifts.

SDS 2014

Jun. 15th, 2014 07:32 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
I attended the Society for Disability Studies conference with my friends [personal profile] jesse_the_k and Barb, which was in Minneapolis over 4 days. My impressions were that it was highly academic, rather expensive, and quite thought-provoking. I experimented with live tweeting some sessions under their hash tag: #Sodist2014.

My impressions on accessibility at this conference:
--Nearly every panel was live-captioned via CART.
--There were many interpreters.
--Mics were in every room and were used by everyone.
--Presenters were pretty good about spelling difficult words for the captionists, elegantly describing images, and checking to make sure they were heard.
--@PriceMargaret was especially good about checking in for access: when presenting, she would say such things as: "Please do what you need to do for your own comfort in this room; such as moving chairs around, getting up to stretch, zoning out, or whatever. Also feel free to interrupt me for access needs."
--At opening ceremonies, all the aisles (both directions) were wide enough for wheelchairs to pass.
--Water bowls were available for service dogs.
--Scent-free soap was provided to registrants.
--It was great being in a place where disability is normalized.

Negative things:
--As Jesse noted, wheelchair seating could have been better. There were no designated seats in front for those who needed the captions; and no marked out boxes for wheelchairs. At the luncheon, no chairs were removed from tables for wheelchairs, and the tables were set pretty close to each other. This seemed odd. There were no marked lanes for crowd control.
--Signage was bad. It was difficult to find the bathrooms, elevators, and program rooms. There was a map in the program book, but it was buried on page 17.
--The program book was difficult for me to use/navigate.
--Many of the presentations were in an incredibly high academic register and were incomprehensible. I tried to avoid these and go to more understandable ones.
--Interesting meetings were scheduled over meal times, which is fine, except that it was difficult to find fast, cheap food. So I did not attend these meetings. Not much food was provided by the conference. We thought that probably the money for food went towards CART and interpreters instead. I am happy to pay for my own food; what I suggest is that the conference work with the hotel to provide box lunches for a fee, so that people can attend these meetings without having to use spoons to hunt down a meal.
--The hotel, hotel restaurant, and many nearby restaurants were quite pricey. I keenly missed the free food and booze that is offered at WisCon, and the nearby Noodles and other less expensive eateries. Economic accessibility matters too.

I had a really great time and learned a lot! I left my dog with a dog park friend and now she is back on the sofa with me.

My favorite presentations:
Disability in 5 objects
Disability and Shoes



May. 13th, 2014 09:51 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
I started a list of conventions/conferences with accessibility policies a while back At the Geek Feminism Wiki.

Anyone can edit this wiki. If you know of cons I can add, please suggest them!

I would just like to say that doing vid show warnings / content notes is actually quite simple.
Here are some examples:


ao3 dot org

I'll have more to say on this later. Context if you ask for it.


Mar. 5th, 2014 03:35 pm
sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
Wisdom from [personal profile] jesse_the_k (paraphrased, from last week):

"Sometimes people think that violence is the only way to get attention from the powerful. But the problem is, it brings the wrong kind of attention. Violence makes the powerful feel like victims and they can use it to justify their further actions." (ie their own further violence).

We also talked about how access is like a living organism, that you have to keep tending it so that it doesn't wither away and die. You can't do access for a group or event once and be done-- you have to keep doing it, keep tending that living organism.

These days I find activists to be the most inspiring people. For instance I found this obituary for civil rights activist Lee Lorch super fascinating. He was a math professor and involved in de-segregating housing. He was a white person who taught at a couple of historically black colleges; he kept getting fired or denied tenure at his jobs due to his activism. He seemed to have no regrets.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Someone wrote to me looking for a nuts-and-bolts job description for Access work for conventions. They had already looked at WisCon's website and the Access Fandom Wiki at Geek Feminism.

Here is what I wrote back:

Here is the text from our "Big Book of Jobs" for the Access position at WisCon:

Access: works with all departments to ensure that all members and their limitations are accommodated. Includes designating areas in each program room for wheelchair seating, designating chairs reserved for lip readers, coordinating with publications to provide large-print publication material for vision-impaired individuals, maintaining clear pathways in all hallways and program rooms, working with hotel liaisons to limit use of scented products by the hotel, working with con suite/dessert salon to post menu/ingredients for those sensitive or allergic to certain food items, and many other things. The theme is to identify barriers to access and try to lower them. This is an advocacy and educational position.

more info:
If members want an accessible hotel room, advise them to contact the hotel. (A walk through before the convention can be super helpful.)

If members wish to rent a wheelchair or scooter, tell them to contact [Home Health United in Madison]. This company will drop off and pick up mobility aides at the hotel.

The Access Coordinator hires a CART (captionist) provider for the Guest of Honor speeches. In the past we've hired [Ginny D and Sarah F]. Provide this person with a list of common names and phrases that might come up during the speeches. If possible, provide them with the speeches themselves. Coordinate with the stage manager also.

The Access Coordinator coordinates the hiring of ASL interpreters if necessary. We used Purple Scheduling in 2012 (our first year of doing this). Bette Mentz Powell at Wisconsin DHS offered us a grant and helped us coordinate this service. Our interpreter's name was Rae. (In 2013 we expanded to 4 interpreters.)

If members need to store medicines, they can do so in the Green Room fridge. Make sure they are properly labeled and tightly sealed.

Try to make sure all stages are ramped. This has been an ongoing issue for WisCon and other conventions. Work with the hotel/event center to make sure this happens.

Have language on your website about etiquette and attitudes, and about barriers that remain. Announcements at opening ceremonies can also be helpful.

Large print program: Programming takes care of this and I'm not really involved, honestly. I think we make about 6 for our 1000-person convention. Documents are also available digitally.

In the last couple of years we have worked on getting people to use their microphones. This is part of moderator training and we have signs and announcements reminding them to do so.

The "traffic lanes"-- blue tape laid down to divide a hallway into a walking lane and a social lane-- are one of our most popular and visible features.

We do a lot at WisCon-- but we've built this up over several years and have some institutional momentum. Also, a lot happens before the convention, which makes things easier for me. The things that happen at the convention are mostly laying down blue tape, hanging up signs, and fielding any last-minute requests or crises that come up. In 2013, I did most of the before-con work and one of the other volunteers (antarcticlust) did most of the at-con work. It's easy to train other volunteers to lay down blue tape, and some committed volunteers have returned to do this for us several years running.

I am personally invested in and enjoy the work, and find it helpful to read blogs, talk to people, and keep learning. We seek feedback from members about how to improve. Members are the best ones to know about how to improve their experience. It's also extremely helpful that the concom is on board with these initiatives.
sasha_feather: Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz holding a gun looking tough (hot fuzz)
I hope you all know by now that language and its effects are an issue near and dear to my heart. Language can be hostile or welcoming, centering or othering. This is particularly on my mind as I look at various "accessibility" policies for conventions in the SF/F world.

I am creating List of such conventions for the Geek Feminism Wiki. (This was inspired by their List of cons with anti-harassment policies.)

First, why is it helpful to have such policies online?

Because information is good access. The more information you can provide to people, even if it's to say that there are barriers to access, the better people can plan for their trip.
Secondly, if people have to ask to receive information, that in itself is a barrier. As many of us with anxiety, fatigue, or other disabilities know, it can be difficult to make that phone call or send that email. A lot of us are used to dealing with people on the other end of the line who aren't our allies and might make our lives more difficult when we ask for information.

As and someone working access, do you really want to give out the information again and again? Why not just do it once, and then point people at your webpage or printed materials?

I know there are some conventions that have had good access but don't have their policies online. Open Source Bridge, I'm looking at you. :)

Other conventions have their policies online (good!) but then make all kinds of mistakes with language. They send signals that they really don't want PWDs to attend at all, that they think people are faking disabilities in order to get good seats or other services (no one does this! seriously), and otherwise hostile language.

Several of these pages use the term "special needs". I don't think very many people on this planet have special needs. Most people have the same needs, it's just that some of us need accommodation in order to enjoy the same events at conventions, like getting to the programming rooms in a timely manner, being able to move through the hotel, being able to understand what is going on, being able to visit with friends, etc. I realize special needs is an introduced PC term for disabled people, but I am just not sure that it fits or is accurate. It makes it sound like disabled people want "more" (like champagne) when what we really want is the same stuff as everyone else (water in a glass we can hold).

Whenever you want to say or write "special needs", I suggest you substitute "accommodations" instead.

Let's Break down some of the specific policies and why they are problematic:


"We will have the Con schedule in large print available (to be read at our table or we can email a copy to you to print or download to your screen reading device)

If you have low vision, you better have a device for reading the program. Otherwise, you have to sit at the registration table to read the program! It's apparently too hard for them to print off a few more copies for low-vision attendees. (Remember, this is a for-profit con.) I really don't know why you would want people clustered around your reg desk that way.

We offer 5 stickers for badges, based on needs:

Wheelchair seating: for our wheeled folk, of course.
Chair in Line/End of Row: for non-wheeled folks with mobility impairments.
Proximity/ 50 ft. to Screen: for visual/lip reading access.
Sightlines: for access to the interpreter, safe space for working animals, and certain other unique situations.
Medical: This sticker is merely a place to put emergency information if you have a medical condition that the EMT needs to know about before they put you in the ambulance. It does not entitle you to any other services.

A person has to out themselves in order to get any of these services. It's right there on one's badge: everyone you interact with at the convention then knows you are a disabled person. It also positions whoever gives the sticker as an authority. I know a lot of people with mild hearing loss who don't consider themselves disabled, but who might benefit from line-of-sight seating. Such people wouldn't want to get a sticker even if they might use an otherwise reserved chair.

One important thing to remember: we will do our best to make sure events are accessible to you, but that does not mean we guarantee you a front row seat, or head-of-the-line privileges. If you are going to a very popular event, you must get there extra early to get a good seat, just like everyone else. The accessible seating will not be in the front row.

I guess if you move slowly, are delayed by crowded elevators, etc., you are screwed. Several other websites said this. Maybe these conventions should put a cap on their membership? (Oh wait, DragonCon is for profit.)

Phoenix Comic Con This is the worst one.

You get a special badge! Lucky you.

But the badge doesn't get you:

· Early access to panels and special events
· Guaranteed access into special events, photo ops, autographs, or panels.
· The ability to skip lines

So fuck you I guess! Especially if you are someone who can't stand for a long time!

Service Animals are always welcome at the Phoenix Convention Center. Animals are sometimes questioned if the need is not apparent, so we suggest attendees carry documentation with them for their companion.

Does anyone know if this is actually illegal? It sounds illegal to me. [eta: it is, see comments] Then again, it's Arizona... I don't think "welcome" means what they think it means, also, to be pedantic, you won't get very far questioning an animal!

Some of the other policies are much better, including for ReaderCon, FogCon, and Arisia (and WisCon, but no need to toot my own horn--plus, I always want to improve.) Some suggested bits of activism for those involved with conventions, or even those who aren't but who can do emailing:
*Encourage Conferences and Conventions to develop Access policies and list them online. Professional and Academic conferences, trade shows, etc can be included here.
*Encourage those with bad policies to improve them.

Comments and suggestions welcome.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Leigh Ann Hildebrand: I explain radical hospitality to my classmates by referencing the experience of arriving at a table where all the seats are already taken. Even if you've been invited to the meeting/dinner/event, if you arrive and there is no place to sit, there's a momentary experience of not-belonging. That feeling happens *before* people get a chance to offer a chair or move down or make room, and if there are additional factors like being already marginalized, being the only POC, the only woman, the only PWD -- that first impression can cast a long shadow on the organization. So I tell people, "Always have an empty chair. And if someone arrives to fill it, get ANOTHER empty chair. Make sure that there is always room at your table -- literally and metaphorically -- for the unexpected guest as well as the expected ones."
sasha_feather: kid from movie pitch black (pitch black)
I slightly unwisely got into a discussion around this article on Jezebel: Will Everyone Please Eat Gluten Because You are Literally Killing Me Kind Of.

I disagree with the article. Full disclosure: I'm not celiac; I have done dietary restrictions but felt no better when I was on them so gave them up.

Point 1:

You see, when something that is medically necessary for some of us becomes something cool and trendy for the rest of the world, shit gets messed up. Waiters, thinking I am just another ankle-boot wearing Gwyneth wannabe, no longer take me seriously. It is actually harder for me to eat out now than it was a few years ago because a little dusting of flour on a piece of flounder equals a few days in bed for me.

The problem is people who prepare food wrongly. They are the ones responsible for the error and should be blamed. The article writer is placing blame on "fad dieters" and people who are doing it "just because". People can eat what they want and shouldn't have to defend their choices. Food preparers who make mistakes don't get to blame their mistakes on these people or these resulting cultural beliefs that "it's no big deal".

As an aside, this is also the reason I had a rare disagreement with a column by s.e. smith, this one about allergies: Food Allergies, Food Politics, and Taste. S.E. instructs us not to lie about food allergies, for similar reasons that Ms. Strauss does. I say, don't lie about what is in the food you make!! You can lie about your food allergies all you want, in my book.

Reasons people might dissemble about food allergies:
--It's easier than explaining your complex Syndrome
--It's more polite than explaining that said food gives you the runs
--Because someone actually is slightly allergic but wants to eat that chocolate anyway (my old boss)
--Because *!$#* why should people have to defend their food choices!

Point 2:
As I mentioned already, gluten-free is not the answer to your dieting needs.

This assumes that people do GF for dieting (weight loss) reasons, which may be true, I don't know. Most people I know do it for general health-related reasons: they want to feel better. They, like me, have Syndrome (TM) and are trying different things to see if anything works. They might be cutting down on gluten rather than eliminating it, because it's hard to change your whole diet at once. But I honestly don't care if people do this for weight loss reasons, as long as they don't talk about weight loss in front of me at length.

Point 3:
For those of you who swear off gluten not because you want to lose weight, but just because you think it will make you healthier: please stick with the whole wheat. Fiber is one of the most important things you can eat for health's sake and it is extremely difficult (and pricey, see below) to get your hands on when you are strictly gluten-free.

Fruits and vegetables have plenty of fiber!

Point 4:

Also, this life is expensive!

I imagine most people doing it "just because" have the funds for it. And actually, their demand might drive down prices for the celiacs!

Here are some reasons ("just because") people might decide to go GF:
--In solidarity with someone who is ill (I know someone doing this)
--To see if it helps them feel better
--Because they have an autoimmune disease, diabetes, or other illness
--Because sometimes fashions are actually on to some kind of good idea (see blue jeans)
--Because *$*%&^*! why should people have to defend their eating choices!

There is my rant for the evening.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
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:


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.”


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.

sasha_feather: horses grazing on a hill with thunderheads (horses and lightning)
Before I forget! When I went to have my blood drawn in the hospital yesterday, I remarked on how much I liked the lights to the phlebotomist. She said she liked them too because she gets bad headaches and they reduce the glare.

The lights shone upwards onto a piece of white fabric that was stretched out like a baby bouncer. From there it reflected into the two blood-draw bays on either side of the barrier. It was all reflected light that didn't shine directly into anyone's eyes; it was bright but diffuse.



My elbows are sore today! Bonus. I don't feel like I am talking enough lately, and I am pretty upset about my joints hurting, so I am going to be writing more here.


Someone today (my CST) asked me if I had plans for the long weekend. I don't really-- I'm pretty broke. I'll probably just watch Warehouse 13 and go to the dog park, maybe try to get some things crossed off my to-do list. When I told her I go to the dog park every day, she said, "when I'm reincarnated I want to come back as one of your pets." :D
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Please sign up for WisCon programming. Sign ups close on March 18!

Also of note: On your "edit bio" page, under "Preferences", you can request disability accommodations if you wish. Click the box and then type in what type of accommodations you request. This can be things such as ramping to the stages, types of seating, or whatever.

If you need an accessible hotel room, please call the hotel.

Send questions or comments to
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
This is something I wrote up for people joining the Access Team for WisCon35 (edited a bit); I thought some of you might be interested in reading it. I don't think any of it is private information, so I am posting it publicly, but please somebody ping me if I am wrong! To me, a big part of doing access work is spreading information and trying to get others on board with it.

A short Intro to Access Work )
sasha_feather: Leela from the 5th element (multipass)
Something I want to write about is institutionalized access.

To begin with, there is the social model of disability. People are not disabled by diseases or conditions, but by society and how it is set up. People are disabled by a lack of accessible facilities, by the fast pace of life, by refusals for accommodation, by language, by discrimination.

It is somewhat arbitrary what needs society meets for its citizens and what needs it doesn't meet. For example, most of us reading the internet have electricity and water automatically delivered to our homes. With the flick of a switch or the turn of a tap, we have heat, light, power, and water (both hot and cold). However in order to get food, we have to be able to leave our houses and go get it. (Yes, there are some grocery delivery services, but they are expensive and not widely available.) Some information is easy to find, some is hard to find. Some needs are easy to meet, some are next to impossible. It is easy to go to a store for aspirin; it can be very hard to get a prescription for narcotic painkillers. It is easy to buy a bicycle in any city in America, but to buy a wheelchair? Very difficult. It is relatively easy to get plastic surgery on one's nose, but hard to get more controversial surgeries.

So for disabled people, suddenly the world is a lot harder to navigate because it is not designed for people with disabilities. It is designed for the "default" or unmarked human. This is a practical concern but it also sucks because it is discrimination. But this does not have to be so!

We can institutionalize access and incorporate universal design into our lives and events even in small ways. Language, attitudes, blogging practices, choosing accessible venues, listening to people and prioritizing access.

"Well," you might be saying, "can't people just ask for help? I'd be happy to help out anyone who needed it!"

It turns out that asking for help is HARD. Especially if you have to do it over and over and don't feel like you can give anything back. Especially if you have a communication disorder or social anxiety or something else that is disabling. Requesting or requiring people to ask for help is ok sometimes, but it puts the onus on disabled people. It also requires them to self-identify or "out" themselves as disabled, which for some people with invisible disabilities is not necessarily something they want to do.

[personal profile] jesse_the_k wrote a good post about this, Making Space for Wheelchairs and Scooters.

So instead, why not institutionalize access? Make it part of your venue, part of your event, part of your goals and expectations. Set the standards. Make a place for disabled people. It is the right thing to do.

cut for two images )

I am thinking about cross-posting this to access-fandom, please advise. Comments very much welcome.
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[profile] awils1 posted this in [community profile] disability: Kink, disability, and ableist prescription of what we are allowed to do; a set of 3 links.

I particularly liked this passage from a feminist pro-SM website:
this might be TMI for some of you; political thoughts on pain play; stuff I'm thinking about because of kink bingo )

Just thought that was interesting. All of the links are interesting!

Also I made my first post to [community profile] access_fandom; check it out. One thing I like out about the word "Access" is that is not specific to those of us who identify as disabled Access benefits everyone whether they identify as disabled or not.

A good example is curb cuts, which are in place legally for wheelchair users. They also benefit people with strollers, wagons, wheeled luggage, hand carts, and probably other things I'm not thinking of. Same with automatic door openers. Same with water service, quiet places, etc. Having a more accessible world is in some ways about having a more usable and humane world.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Nerdy PSA at [personal profile] hope's journal is a great post on how to make your website or blog more accessible using basic HTML.

One of my big pet peeves that I see people do quite frequently, is hyperlink to things without describing what they are linking to.

For example,

I am reading this right now!


I am reading The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm by Nancy Farmer right now.

I don't want to have to click on your link just to find out what the heck you are talking about. It's irritating. And I'm not trying to pick on any one person here, because I have seen at least two dozen people do variations of this problem. Sometimes for creative reasons, like using "ZOMG" as their hyperlink label when they are excited. But that is just as bad. As [personal profile] hope points out, for someone using a screen reader, when they hear "ZOMG" or "here" that is not very helpful for knowing where the link goes. I TOO FIND IT ANNOYING. (And I'm not holding this against you personally! It's just a part of blogging culture that I want to shift.)

[eta: I lay this out some more in comments at LJ.]


Also Access related, [personal profile] bibliofile, [personal profile] goblingirl and I were talking about con-related access things the other day, and bibliofile had this idea of making a Con Access Wiki. Something that everyone could read, with centralized information for how to do access at a con. Probably it would have to have restricted editing privileges. But the centralization would be nice, so that each con did not have to re-invent the wheel. And it would reduce barriers because you wouldn't have to know who to talk to to find things out, or get over your social anxiety to do so.

What do you guys think? Just an idea I'm pondering. Cons in this case means both conventions and conferences.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Passing this along:

For Compare and Contrast,
WisCon's Accessibility Inclusion Statement is here.

If you have specific questions about Access at WisCon, or want to chat about how to make your own favorite convention more accessible, please email


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