In “World Fantasy Convention 2015 – Disability and Accessibility”, author and Tor.com blogger Mari Ness tells in narrative form the frustrations she shared with her Twitter audience last weekend while trying to participate in WFC as a wheelchair user.
[Unfortunately] this is not the first disability/accessibility problem I have had with conventions, or the first time a convention has asked/agreed to have me on programming and then failed to have a ramp that allows me to access the stage. At least in this case it wasn’t a Disability in Science Fiction panel that, incredibly enough, lacked a ramp, but against that, in this case, the conrunners were aware I was coming, were aware that I use a wheelchair, had spoken to me prior to the convention and had assured me that the convention would be fully accessible, and put me on panels with stages but no ramp.
Ness says that in the future her policy will be to attend only conventions that satisfy two conditions:
- Offer an accessibility statement on the convention website, and/or a written statement to me guaranteeing disability access, and offering specifics about that disability access.
- Provide access ramps to stages.
Ness concludes: “I am, granted, only a very small voice in fandom, but I’m a very small voice that can no longer use my money and time to support conventions that cannot take the time to ensure that I can fully participate in the con.”
People have tweeted support for her announcement.
— Marie Brennan (@swan_tower) November 10, 2015
I also will no longer be attending conventions that do not treat my colleagues with disabilities as equals. https://t.co/z5R4HGDM6y
— Razorblade Snowflake (@Keffy) November 10, 2015
This has been my policy by necessity; I stand with Mari to make accessibility a visible priority for SFF cons. https://t.co/JKBSKrSv9r
— Lev Mirov (@thelionmachine) November 10, 2015