I would like to build a world where our first thought about any given convention is “Yay, convention!” not “is this even remotely accessible for Caitlin?”
As many of you know from recent posts and Tweets, the World Fantasy Convention this year had another accessibility failure. Many of us have lost count of the number of times such a thing has happened with an SF/F convention. Though some conrunners are working towards improving this situation (Yay! — and SFWA even posted an accessibility checklist), others have decided it’s too expensive to make their conventions accessible, or that accessibility is “PC Bullshit.” (Michael found out over the weekend that was said at a regional convention’s board meeting recently.)
Accessibility is not PC Bullshit. It is the law in the United States, and it has been for 25 years.
We can and should do better.
All members of a convention should be treated with dignity. These are people— our friends, fans, and colleagues– who have the same right to an inclusive experience at these events as any of the other paying members. volunteers, or guests.
If conventions build this into their planning and budgeting from day one, this can and should happen.
The onus is on conventions to be accessible to all of their members, not for people with disabilities (and their caregivers, where applicable) to have to “figure something out” when conventions don’t consider accessibility to be as important as, say, registration or con suite.
Mari Ness posted a personal policy
that she would no longer attend a convention unless certain things happen with accessibility at that particular convention. She worried at the end of her post that it will have no effect since she has a “very small voice.”
Let’s make that voice HUGE.
We (The Thomases) and Mary Robinette Kowal talked, and we think a similar pledge cosigned by the SF/F community is the best to see substantive changes with the convention community. This was the lesson shown by Veronica Schanoes’s and John Scalzi’s harassment policy pledge posts. Though things are still very much a work-in-progress, almost every convention now at least has a code of conduct.
We hope you will consider signing it. We understand if you can’t, but we believe that together we can make this happen. No hard feelings if you don’t, and thank you for the taking the time to read and consider it.
Lynne, Michael, and Caitlin
About Lynne M. Thomas
Lynne M. Thomas is a nine time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Pingback: A Pledge for SF/F Convention Accessibility - Uncanny Magazine