I don’t often post my “work” work on this blog, but recently I had the opportunity to conduct an interview on a topic that crosses my personal and professional interests: fan convention accessibility.
A group of writers, creators, and fans are putting pressure on conventions that don’t take accessibility seriously. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention Accessibility Pledge asks participants to boycott inaccessible fan conventions, unless the following accommodations are met:
- The convention has an accessibility statement posted on the website and in the written programs offering specifics about the convention’s disability access.
- The convention has at least one trained accessibility staff member with easy to find contact information. (There are numerous local and national organizations that will help with training.)
- The convention is willing and able to make accommodations for its members as it tries to be as accessible as possible. (We recommend that the convention uses the Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces as a beginning guideline. Other resources include Fans for Accessible Cons, A Guide for Accessible Conferences, and the ADA rules for places of public accommodation, which apply to US conventions.)
Like many initiatives of its kind, the pledge was spurred on by a series of negative incidents: including one where a guest panelist was unable to access her presentation area due to it being wheelchair inaccessible.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lynne and Michael Thomas, publishers of Uncanny Magazine, who helped draft and publicize the pledge. You can listen to the interview below, which aired as part our AMI-audio’s Insights program.
Thoughts and comments are welcome! It will be interesting to see how this pledge develops in the coming months, and whether conventions will embrace or ignore.