The Chicon 7 committee has answered concerns about access and complaints about its hoax program panel — “Chicon Acknowledges Concerns of Mobility-Impaired Members”
Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), has acknowledged the concerns expressed by a number of convention members over the arrangements made to support scooter users and others with mobility impairments. Chicon 7 apologizes sincerely for any inconvenience caused and is committed to sharing the lessons learned with its successors.
Chicon 7’s support for mobility-impaired members was in line with that used for preceding Worldcons, although inevitably subject to the constraints of the host facility (the Hyatt Regency Chicago) in terms of hotel layout and internal navigation. Chicon 7’s arrangements were coordinated by a disability services team with experience from many previous conventions and included the usual arrangements for reserved scooter areas in key event and program rooms. Elevator management was supported by hotel staff located at key locations.
Feedback received has made us increasingly aware that these arrangements did not work as well as planned. Some scooter users had extended journey times across the site due to challenges finding elevator space, and members could not always obtain access to the program items they wished to see due to rooms filling quickly with more mobile fans during change-overs. In addition, some confusion has been reported with access to the reserved seating area in main Ballroom for the Hugo Awards.
Separately, we have also received complaints over the imaginary “Stagg Field” program track. This tradition of Chicago conventions was trailed in Progress Report 4, and designed to bring a touch of whimsy and local fandom to the program. However, we recognize that the presentation of the track – seamlessly integrated with the real program information – meant that some people did not realize that this was an artificial creation. Among these were mobility-impaired members who suffered discomfort looking for the Stagg Field room, and to them we particularly apologize.
Chicon 7 deeply regrets the impact that these issues caused for some members. While the events cannot now be undone, we hope that members will accept our apology and our commitment to gather and collate feedback and share it with the upcoming Worldcons in San Antonio (2013) and London (2014).