soc_puppet: Words "Humorless Feminist" in pink (Humorless Feminist)
[personal profile] soc_puppet
Blargh, sorry this took so long. My internet connection issues should all be sorted out now, though. On to the details! (Part 1 can be found here.)

[Content Note: Ablism/Disablism]

* Two meetings prior to the convention, a fellow staffer asked if I could make sure a ramp was included at the mainstage area in Main Programming this year. I initially responded that I'd asked for one last year, and it should still be in the hotel resume (which basically describes what we want out of our various spaces, and how we would like them set up). I then decided to double-check, because better safe than sorry, and we had just changed hotel department heads since the previous convention. Lo and behold, there was no record of mainstage needing a ramp. I made sure that the request was logged in the appropriate resume, and went to relay the results to the staffer who had approached me. I was quite happy to see the ramp ready to go when I was marking out wheelchair spaces before the convention.

* There was a bit of a problem with the head of registration. I had stepped down completely from registration staff duties this year so I could dedicate myself to Accessibility and the staff art table in the Exhibit Hall (= Dealer's Room). The reg head for this year was someone with whom many members of AI staff have had, shall we say, philosophical differences.

Prior to the convention, this person and I had spoken about attendees with mobility issues. Last year, we had allowed attendees with mobility issues to arrange to pick up their badges at the Bridge, so they wouldn't have to wait in line. The reg head objected to this idea, and suggested instead that the attendees could arrange to pick up their badges at a "special" desk that would be set up in the registration area. It would be the same desk that Sponsors would pick up their badges from, and was also where people with problems with registration would go to sort them out. This seemed reasonable to me, and while I wasn't entirely certain how attendees would recognize this desk, I assumed that the reg head would have this covered.

The convention dawned - or rather, pre-dawned on the Thursday before. People who had pre-registered had the option to pick up their badges that evening, and Registration had co-opted a room as their headquarters. When peeking in, I saw lines labeled alphabetically by last name (A through E, for example), and one for Staff/Sponsors. There was no special desk labeled for questions or problems, nor did the Staff/Sponsors line have any indication that it was the one attendees with disabilities were to use to pick up their badges.

I approached the reg head about how to recognize the "special desk". He explained that the "special desk" was recognizeable by his presence at it, and effectively had no other distinguishing features. Given that this person has not been reg head since the convention switched locations seven years prior, that the convention had grown considerably since then, and that I had not been aware of his idea of "distinguishing features of the special desk" until litereally the night before the convention, I was understandably upset and suggested instead that attendees with mobility issues be allowed to skip the line, as I had originally suggested as an alternative to picking up badges at the bridge. It was then that I learned that the reg head takes it as a matter of personal pride that they will not allow anyone, no matter the reason, to skip the line.

When I explained to them that it was in our Accessibility Policy to allow people with mobility problems to skip the line and that our con com/execs had already agreed to it, they told me that if I wanted people to skip the line, then they were fully prepared to quit on the spot and I could run registration instead. Fuming, I did not actually make a common rude hand gesture but rather an uncommon one and went about the business of marking out wheelchair spots, with plans to speak with an exec should I run into one on the way. I did so, and the exec accompanied me to speak with the reg head. We instead spoke to both the reg head's and my immediate supervisor (someone in a position between reg head and the execs which AI calls a "gym leader", because reasons), who assured me that accomodations would be made for people with mobility issues.

It is my understanding that, even prior to this, the person in question had made it clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that they would not be returning as staff for AnimeIowa at all in the future. It is also my understanding that I am far from the only person on staff who is happy to see the last of them in official capacity for our convention. I would probably be happy not to see any more of them at all, which is rather a shame, because their spouse is really quite a lovely person, IMO.

* Speaking of the Accessibility Policy, I didn't actually manage to get it entirely okay'd until the day before the convention, whoops. I had gotten my immediate supervisor and one exec to look over it at the second to last meeting before the con, but hadn't gotten around to e-mailing it to the other execs in the meantime. I did get three other execs to read through the policy Thursday evening and effectively sign off on it. I have also just sent a copy to this year's execs to hopefully okay, so I can get it posted on the convention's website ASAP.

* While setting up my things in the Dealer's Room, I was directed to a dealer who had expressed interest in speaking to the Accessibility Head about accommodations. I was directed to the person in question, where they asked about any "special badges" that would allow them to skip any lines, given that they had only been able to get around by means of a wheelchair until very recently andn ow still had to rely on a cane. They knew that other conventions did this, and were wondering if AnimeIowa did it and, when I said we did not, why. I did my best to explain about not wanting to make PWD "marked" or to automatically out them to every other convention attendee, though I'm afraid I did a poor job of it.

The Masquerade was also the only event that came to mind at the time that involved an actual line, and while registration frequently did, this person had already collected their badge - a Dealer's/Artisan's badge, which they got from a different location than other attendees. ((As a note to msyelf, I need to make sure that the location to pick up these badges is very explicitly clear to anyone who gets one, because having to potentially wait in line to get your badge only to find out it's the wrong line, and the right line is potentially at the other end of a very long hallway? Yeah, that can't be good.)) The Masquerade head had previously stated that they couldn't allow anyone to skip the line; given that the Masquerade is an incredibly popular event with very limited seating, I was more understanding of that than I was of the no-skipping-the-reg-line BS, though I still wasn't entirely happy with it. However, I don't believe I had actually worked out a solution as of this year, and that is entirely on me and my own biases; I haven't attended a Masquerade for probably at least five years now, and haven't enjoyed it for even longer. I will be speaking with the Masquerade department to work out a possible proxy system for PWD who wish to attend but cannot wait in line. This should hopefully clear up any issues with the Masquerade deptartment and any potential attendee grumpiness over "unfairness", or at least minimize it. Lines for autographs simply hadn't occurred to me at all, though I can probably work out a similar system for that, provided that the Guests head isn't more accommodating WRT attendees' ability to wait in lines (or lack thereof).

Anyway, I told the exhibitor that I didn't think there were any events aside from the Masquerade that had lines at AI, and I could probably work out a proxy system for that if they wanted me to. We eventually agreed that they would be skipping lines as they saw fit, and if anyone had any problem with it, that person could come talk to me about it.

An hour or two later, as the exhibitor was leaving the exhibition hall, I remembered that I had an extra copy of the Accessibility Policy on hand. I made quick work of passing it on to them, and their companion began reading it aloud to them immediately as they continued on their way. I certainly didn't want to hold them up and potentially waste their spoons if they could just as easily continue to where they were going, especially since they knew where I was and how to find me if they had any questions.

* I did hear of one person complaining that foods with citrus weren't labeled as such in the Consweet, unlike foods with dairy, nuts, any of the other eight most common food allergies, or if they were gluten-free, but being that citrus isn't one of the eight most common food allergies, I didn't think it was terribly important. Unfortunately, I don't know that I made sure an ingredients list was available for all foods this year, which is something I definitely need to make sure I do next year, because getting an allergy attack at a convention would be both horrible and completely preventable by having ingredient lists available.

And that's all I can remember for the AI 2014 Teaspoon/Accessibility Report. Overall, I had a lot of failings this year, mostly in getting things printed out on time. If I ever get my own underling, this is definitely something I plan to assign to them. I also feel like I did some good work, and am looking forward to doing better next year.

Date: 2014-08-25 10:52 pm (UTC)
crows: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crows
I was thinking about this while on the airplane earlier trying not to think about how bumpy the flight was. Would it be possible, in a situation like this, to implement some kind of number-taking system? Instead of having people wear a badge or flag on a general basis, if someone feels they may need to not stand in a long line, they would have a place in line (thus not just skipping the queue entirely), that would be held by number, and they could be elsewhere until their place got to the front of the line. You could get an idea beforehand if this was an accommodation that was requested (like we know this list of X people may have difficulty standing for long periods and may be utilizing the service) so that if space needed to be set aside you'd have an idea of how much. I'm not totally sure how implementation would work, not knowing the size of the convention or concurrence of events with lines. Maybe if there was only one event happening at a time that might generate a wait (like that masquerade), a person in charge of accessibility for it could be keeping a loose headcount of the people waiting, and then when someone who wasn't comfortable standing the whole time came, you'd go 'okay, there are about 15 people in line, you're number 16' and that number would be on the table or at the door. Count people through, and then when the 14th or 15th person is there then the person who is number 16 can come take their place?

Not being in this position with any of my own issues, I don't know how problematic it is for people to have to go ask for accommodation in advance. I know that long processes and/or supplying proof and/or only 'certain' situations being considered an 'official' disability stops people from having their needs met at universities and things of that nature. But would it remain a similar problem in the case of meeting with/contacting the accessibility group on registering or gathering a badge (like if there was a table set up or something) to just say 'hey jsyk my hip is an asshole sometimes, can I have standing accommodations if needed?' and then their name is on a list so that folks can have a heads up about how we can all help each other out?

Date: 2014-09-02 03:17 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Little late, but a few comments from the perspective of someone who can't stand in line, more based on my experience of Worldcon than a smaller con.

Not providing the ability to shortcut the registration queue could potentially stop me attending at all. When I got to Worldcon I was told the reg queue was 45 minutes, I've read it reached 90 minutes. My ability to stand in line, on a good day, having done nothing beforehand, is about 10 minutes. If I've already done stuff (such as the 90 minute train and DLR journey to get to the con) then it's a fraction of that. And if I'm forced into a situation of trying to do that, then it may trigger my pain levels to the point I end up spending the rest of the week in bed. Even just standing in line for 10 minutes may trigger my pain levels to the point I can't actually enjoy whatever it is I'm queueing for - I gave up going to cons for 20 years because they're so marginal for me being able just to navigate around, never mind being in a state to actually enjoy them.

I switched to the chair I'd hired after registration, so spent the rest of Worldcon on wheels (I see someone already linked to my blog about it), but I could still see the issues I'd have had on my feet with crutches and that other ambulant mobility impaired people were having.

There's a less obvious problem than just trying to ensure people with mobility impairments can get into individual events roughly at the same point as though they had queued. People with mobility impairments in general move more slowly than others, and in crowds they may move much more slowly than those around them, which translates into getting to the queue much later than they would have without the impairment. There were a bunch of Worldcon panels I only got into because there was an empty wheelchair space, if I'd arrived that late on foot, even setting out immediately from the previous panel, then I just wouldn't have gotten in, but a non-disabled person starting from the same point at the same time would have. A reasonable adjustment to our queueing needs doesn't just need to address difficulty in being in the queue, but also difficulty in getting to the queue, and that we're spending far more energy than anyone else just to get around.

I'm not in general a fan of requiring disabled people to carry something identifying them as disabled, but for cons ensuring the disabled person has the same opportunity to enjoy the con as a whole, rather than just the opportunity to get into an indivual event, I think an access ribbon/badge/whatever allowing them to shortcut queues is pretty much an essential. It's also potentially the only way for a person with an invisible disability to demonstrate that they are entitled to the access provisions.

Date: 2014-09-04 11:19 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
The Worldcon panels were getting 'stop' notices waved at them at about 15 minutes before the next panel was due to start, in practice most took at least five and sometimes ten minutes to run down, so getting between panels at Worldcon was clearly tighter than at AnimeIowa. Most of the panels were in a compact block of rooms (but a large one, call it 100m by 50m), but there were a bunch of smaller ones out in a different suite of rooms that weren't brilliant to get to. Mostly it was the crowds and short timescales that were an issue.

Date: 2014-09-13 09:32 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Ultra modern white fabric interlaced to create strong weave (interdependence)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Sounds like you did great work, especially for the first year. Approach awesome asymptotically, I always say.

<snark>My only idea for the masquerade is get a bigger room! Honestly, if people want to see it, can't the cosplayers move from one room, down the hall, to another? </snark>

Re: food labelling and the hospitality suite. First, I have to squee over "Consweet," never seen that spelling before and it's adorable. Food labelling was a matter of profound contention at my con, and you may have already been through this with your committee/execs—but just in case. I strongly recommend against labelling anything except the "big 8." As someone with food allergies, this approach stinks. But as someone helping to run a con, I can't imagine attempting the alternative. If the food manufacturers aren't required to label "citric acid" in readable letters, I can't be sure that I will be able to see it, and then accurately convey the contents to fellow members/attendees. Our concom was willing to take on the responsibility for amplifying the big 8 info from containers to signs/program info/tickets.

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