Tag Archives: accessibility

WisCon’s Thursday Night Shuttle

TL;DR: 4:30pm to 8:00pm Accessible Shuttle to and from Room of One’s Own!

WisCon is days away, and we’re darned excited to see you all! For those of you who will be in Madison on Thursday night, we kick off the long weekend with an intimate reception and reading at Room of One’s Own Bookstore with our Guests of Honor, G. Willow Wilson and Charlie Jane Anders. Room of One’s Own is about four blocks away from the Concourse Hotel, our main venue, so WisCon offers a complimentary accessible shuttle to and from the bookstore. Shuttles will start running to Room of One’s Own at 4:30pm, and will be making trips back to the Concourse as late as 8:00pm. This is an as-needed shuttle, so as seats fill up and/or passengers get antsy, the shuttle will depart to its destination. You may wait for the shuttle outside of the Concourse’s main entrance and at the entrance to Room of One’s Own. The vehicle, operated by Union Cab is a large van that is white with red lettering and a Bucky Badger mascot decal. It can fit 2 passengers using wheelchairs, and 6 passengers not, per trip. Tips aren’t necessary for the driver, but are always welcome. (WisCon will be compensating the driver, as well.) Room of One’s Own Bookstore is accessible by sidewalks and curb cuts, if you’d like to head over on your own time.

We look forward to this weekend. Safe travels!

Introducing Introvert Corner!

This WisCon 43 will be the convention’s first year offering Introvert Corner, a “pop-up” space for shy folks to meet and make friends during convention downtime. In past years, attendees have provided feedback requesting such a space, and this year, we’re making it happen.

Mealtimes and evening parties can be socially daunting whether you’re new to the con, attending alone, or otherwise shy. The lobby during mealtimes can be overwhelming, over-stimulating, and chaotically confusing. The Introvert Corner seeks to provide some relief for wallflowers, fluttershys, and anxious androids, while creating opportunities to meet new people who could become convention friends.

The Introvert Corner is a kind of “pop-up,” temporary space that will be utilizing the Spontaneous Programming room when it’s not in use for programming. This is located at University D on the far end of the 2nd floor hallway, to the left when facing the Registration table. This Corner is tucked away from crowds, but is still not far from the action. Look for signage at the convention.

We envision Introvert Corner both as a meet-up spot and a hang-out spot. It provides a meet-up spot from which to venture out with new acquaintances during meals or parties. It can also be hang-out spot with other introverts, whether you’re chatting, or simply sharing space in a semi-social and absolutely acceptable fashion. If Spontaneous Programming is happening inside the room during downtime hours, look for fellow wallflowers metaphorically shuffling our feet just outside the doors. The space will be completely self-directed, so some bravery will be required for breaking the ice and taking lead in decisions on where to eat together, what party to attend together, etc., should you decide it. You’re also welcome to bring quiet, fidgety, semi-social activities, like coloring books, knitting projects, or similar, to simply “be” in the space with other folks around. We welcome people who use this space to talk with each other, get to know one another, and hopefully make some friends, but, of course, socializing is optional.

The Introvert Corner is a work-in-progress, and if you have ideas or want to help take lead on this new “pop-up” space, please reach out to access@wiscon.net.

Updates from WisCon’s Access Team

Greetings from Accessland, a magical realm where volunteers work behind the scenes to make WisCon accessible for as many humanoids as possible. We’d like to take a moment to remind our attendees of WisCon’s Access-related policies and opportunities, so we can all make the most of a wonderful weekend. Some of this may be old news to long-time con-goers, but I promise there’s at least one new thing below! We invite you to read more at http://wiscon.net/policies/accessibility/. In no particular order:

(1) Blue Tape at WisCon

WisCon uses blue painter’s tape to mark areas of the convention space for various users, including squares on the floors of panel rooms for wheelchair parking, slashes on chairs near the fronts of panel rooms for those who who need to be close to hear or see, and 6th-floor aisle markings to keep travel lanes clear. It takes volunteer power to mark and upkeep these markings throughout the convention. If you’d like to help as a Blue Tape volunteer, please sign up by filling out our online form, or emailing access@wiscon.net.

(2) Thursday Night Shuttle

WisCon’s first scheduled event each year is an off-site reception and reading at Room of One’s Own Bookstore on Thursday night. The bookstore is about 4 blocks from the hotel. We offer a free shuttle between the Concourse Hotel and Room of One’s Own that can accommodate up to one passenger using a wheelchair or scooter and three passengers on foot. This accessible van from Union Cab will be stationed at the Concourse from 4:30pm to 6:30pm on Wisconsin Avenue, and from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at Room of One’s Own, making multiple trips as needed between the two locations. Look for more details in a future blog post by that Thursday morning.

(3) Minimizing Strong Scents

WisCon asks con-goers to please consider those with allergies or chemical sensitivities by minimizing strong scents at the con, be it perfumes, incense, cigarette smoke, or similar. Unfortunately, the convention space is not a fragrance-free zone, but WisCon takes steps to minimize strong scents, including providing scent-free soaps in the restrooms. Keep these practices in mind when donating clothing to the Gathering’s clothing swap—washing donations with scent-free detergents before the convention will make the swap more awesome for everyone!

(4) The Quiet Room & Safer Spaces

WisCon can be overwhelming at times, so we offer a Quiet Room on the 2nd floor where attendees can get some peaceful respite. We also offer three Safer Spaces rooms for people of color, people with disabilities, and people who are trans, non-binary, and/or genderqueer. Other relaxing escapes are available, like sitting in on a reading or taking a stroll through nearby parks.

(5) Feeding Yourself at WisCon

Don’t let the hanger consume you; consume some of WisCon’s goodies instead! We try to accommodate as many eaters as possible, whether vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or just on a tight budget, we have plenty of options for you. The Friday Bake Sale, Sunday Dessert Salon, and free snacks and meals at the Consuite will have major allergens marked, but are not entirely nut-free if you have severe allergies.

(6) Mindfulness of Sight & Sound

WisCon works hard so that everyone can read and listen how they read and listen best. We offer CART captioning at the Guests of Honor speeches and at select panels, as well as limited ASL interpreting. We  also provide large-print or Braille versions of our Pocket Program Book, with advanced notice, as well as Braille-marked games at our Gaming tables. Larger panel rooms are equipped with microphones, and we remind our panelists not to cover their mouths when speaking, for the benefit of audience members who lip-read. Descriptions of the visual components of panels will benefit audience members who are blind or low-vision.

(7) Elevators & Stairs

WisCon wants to make it as easy to get around the convention space as possible. Because events take place on multiple floors, many attendees use the hotel’s elevators to move around. If you can take the stairs, please do, to alleviate traffic to the elevators for those who need them.

(8) Introducing Introvert Corner!

This WisCon 43 will be the convention’s first year offering Introvert Corner, a “pop-up” space for shy folks to meet and make friends during convention downtime! In past years, attendees have craved such a space, and we’re making it happen. Mealtimes and evening parties can be socially daunting whether you’re new to the con, attending alone, or otherwise shy. The Introvert Corner will be located on the 2nd floor at the Spontaneous Programming room in University D, tucked away from crowds but still not far from the action. We envision Introvert Corner both as a meet-up spot to venture out with new friends during meals or parties, and as a hang-out spot with other introverts, whether you’re talking or simply sharing space in a semi-social and absolutely acceptable fashion. If Spontaneous Programming is happening inside the room, look for fellow wallflowers metaphorically shuffling our feet just outside the doors.

The Introvert Corner is a work-in-progress, and if you have ideas or want to help take lead on this new “pop-up” space, please reach out to access@wiscon.net.

Questions? Concerns? Forget to request an accommodation, or want to make a suggestion? Email us at access@wiscon.net. We look forward to creating a stellar experience with you at WisCon 43!

New This Year: WisCon Tactile Art Show

On Saturday, May 26 at 9am, the WisCon Art Show will be holding a tactile art tour for con members with visual impairments or anyone who would like a guided tour through touching some of our 3D art (modeled on the tour at Arisia — thank you, Arisia organizers, for your advice!).

The following artists will be including their work in the tactile tour:

  • C. J. Hawkins
  • Clara Abnet Holden
  • David Lee Pancake
  • Elena Tabachnick
  • Erika Hammerschmidt
  • J. J. Brutsman
  • Katherine Olson
  • Lisa Bergin
  • Mary Anne Mohanraj
  • Mary Prince
  • SamHain Press
  • Stacie Arellano
  • Ty Blauersouth

To participate, just come to the Art Show room (Senate AB, on the first floor behind the stairs) at 9am Saturday.

The Art Show and Access departments are excited about offering this for the first time at WisCon 42! If you have questions, let us know at artshow@wiscon.net or access@wiscon.net.

A few notes on Access at WisCon 41

WisCon ConChairs

Every year, our Access Team works hard to make the con space as navigable as possible for all our members. From the unscented soaps in the public restrooms to the travel lanes on the 6th floor, accessibility is an important priority for WisCon.

A new initiative that we’re very excited about this year is….

Accessible shuttle to / from the Room of One’s Own Reception on Thursday night, for the Guest of Honor readings

Room of One’s Own is about five blocks from the Concourse hotel, which is further than some members are comfortable or able to walk. This year we have reserved a fully accessible shuttle which will be running between the Concourse  and Room of One’s Own!

The reception and Guest of Honor readings start at 6pm.  The shuttle will run between 4:30 and 7:30pm.   The shuttle will be on-demand in that it will collect passengers until it’s full, then make a run and return for more passengers.

A few other notes about accessibility through the rest of the weekend

1st floor carpeting

If you have difficulty navigating the carpeted area next to the elevator bank on the first floor, there is a path to the right of the grand staircase past The Cupboard Under The Stairs™ (previously the business center) and around the far side of the elevators.

Accessible and all-gender restrooms

There are single-occupancy accessible all-gender restrooms in several places in the hotel, including in Conference 1 on the 2nd floor and on the 6th floor between rooms 627 and 629. Panels may be taking place in Conference 1 during the day, but you are always welcome to enter to use the restroom.

Blue tape!

Blue tape is used throughout the convention space to define accessible spaces. Blue-taped areas and chairs in programming rooms are for those who use mobility devices or who may need to sit near the front for whatever reason. Blue-taped lanes in the hallways show you which side of the hall is for walking or rolling and which side is for hanging out — please move to one side if you find yourself stopping to chat in the hall. Blue tape can also indicate where lines should form.

Mobility scooters

Do you need a mobility scooter while you’re in town for WisCon?

Access Do’s and Don’ts

Respect Blue Zones: Please don’t stand in the striped zones. Don’t remove the tape

Do Respect Service Animals  Although interacting with animals is tempting, please don’t pet, distract, or take photos of service animals

Do Use the Quiet Space if you need a break. Don’t Make the Quiet Place a loud place. Respect the space

Do Use microphones on panels. Don’t Ignore requests that you use one.

Do Ask for help if you need it. Don’t feel like asking for assistance is a problem.

Questions, comments, requests?

How can we help make the convention more accessible for you? You can always contact us at access@wiscon.net.

WisCon badges — A tale of accessibility, affordability, and sustainability

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

Ah, the humble convention badge. In its most basic form, it says simply, “Please let me into all your sweet programming spaces, for I am a member of this convention (having agreed to your Code of Conduct).” Often, it also says, “The name printed here is my nom de convention. Please use this and no others.”

But at WisCon, our badges say so much more.

The back of the badge

The first line on the back of your badge tells you the name(s) you used during registration — there may be two names listed if you indicated you wanted a specific badge name. This line also lists what type of membership you have (e.g., Adult, Teen, Youth) and how many tickets to the Dessert Salon you purchased (D:0, D:1, D:2, &c.).

On the back of everyone’s badge, we also print the contact information for our Safety team. This includes Safety’s phone number and (new this year!) the URL to use to get to Safety’s online reporting form.

Are you participating in programming this weekend? Your schedule is also printed on the back! This includes the day, time, location, and title of each programming item.

The front of the badge

On the front of your badge we print your name as large as we possibly can so that it’s easy to read from a comfortable distance. Under your name (much smaller) we print you home city, state/province, and country.

And that, in a nutshell, is the stock WisCon badge.

But wait, there’s more!

Pronouns

Pronoun stickers at WisCon 40.
Pronoun stickers at WisCon 40.

We also provide — available at our Registration Desk whenever you’d like to stop by to take them — pronoun stickers. This year’s stickers include she / he / they / e / xe / ou / ze / zie. As well as “any pronouns” and “singular they is always grammatical”. You can absolutely choose to not wear a sticker. You can choose to wear multiple stickers! You can change your sticker(s) throughout the weekend if you want! And if you don’t see the pronoun you need, please email us and we’ll try to get one custom printed for you: registration@wiscon.net If you’d like to know more about our pronoun stickers, this post from last year does a great job of covering the etiquette and protocol of navigating pronouns.

Interaction indicators

A full set of interaction cards at WisCon 40.

Our interaction indicators are an idea that comes from the autism community, and we are proud to offer them for everyone who feels it’s helpful to give folks some guidance on the best way to approach you in any given moment. The cards are designed to fit into your badge holder right behind your badge, with the top portion sticking out to indicate which interaction you prefer. Here’s a quick guide to how to use the cards.

First, take the whole set! You’ll need all of the cards — red/hexagon, yellow/triangle, green/circle — for the system to work. Each of the cards is marked in three ways: by color, by symbol, and with text that spells out the name of the color.

  • Red / square*: STOP. Don’t talk to me! (* A change from WisCon 40 when it was a hexagon.)
  • Yellow / triangle: I only want to talk to people I know in person — not strangers or people I only know from the internet.
  • Green / circle: I would like to talk to people, but I may have trouble initiating conversation.

Please respect these badges! It’s okay to mess up at first — you’ll soon learn to look for them and follow their cues.

“Ask Me!” buttons

“Ask Me” — now in button format for WisCon 41!

Who are these folks with the teal/turquoise buttons that say “Ask Me”? These are concom members and other long-time WisCon attendees who have volunteered to share their vast wealth of WisCon information. Have a question about WisCon? “Where’s the Con Suite?” “When is the Tiptree Auction?” “Can I register for next year’s WisCon yet?” “Which way to the pool??” Anyone wearing an “Ask Me” button can likely answer any of these questions — and many more! Don’t be afraid to ask!

Return your badge holder before you leave

As much as possible, WisCon reuses its badge holders from year to year. This saves us money and reduces waste, which is important for our commitments to affordability and sustainability.

This also means that we ask you to please not affix stickers to your badge holder. Please stick them directly on your badge!

And we also ask you to please not stick convention ribbons on your badge. We especially ask those of you planning parties or readings, and so forth, to not have badges for your event. Yes, badge ribbons look totally awesome! An amazing technicolor convention coat of sorts! But… then we can’t re-use the badge holder, and we’d really like to.

So please, as much as it’s possible, keep your badge holder in pretty good shape and return it to the Registration area as you leave WisCon this year. If you forget or something unspeakable happens to your badge holder, no harm done. We’ll have one for you next year!

Safer Space for People with Disabilities

WisCon is happy to reserve a place for people who are disabled to connect and decompress. We welcome those with visible and/or invisible disabilities to join us in a space where we don’t always have to talk about disability (but we can if we want); where there is absolutely no expectation that we act tough, happy, grateful, or “inspirational”; and where we can relax in good company. If you identify as needing this space, it is for you.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us using the email address at the top of this page.

Access Is Awesome

Less a headline and more a statement of fact, our Access Team works hard every day to make sure you are able to navigate the con safely regardless of your level of ability. From the unscented soaps in the public restrooms to the remote viewing room at the Dessert Salon, they’re working every day to make the con accessible to as many people as possible.

Here are a few notes from your access team:

If you have difficulty navigating the carpeted area next to the elevator bank on the first floor, use the blue-taped path to the right of the grand staircase past The Cupboard Under The Stairs™ (previously the business center) and around the far side of the elevators.

We have a sharps disposal container available for your use in the nongendered restroom next to Registration. If you need a personal sharps container, they are available in the hotel’s Sundries Shop next to the front desk for $3.

Did you know there’s an accessible, nongendered restroom on the 6th floor next to 629? I didn’t until today! We’ve also got one on the second floor to the right of Registration.

Blue tape, it’s everywhere! Blue-taped areas and chairs in programming rooms are for those who use mobility devices or who may need to sit near the front for whatever reason. Blue-taped lanes in the hallways show you which side of the hall is for walking or rolling and which side is for hanging out. Blue tape can also indicate where lines should form.

interaction badge
I may be able to manage my own interactions, but can I take a decent picture? Nope. Sorry, folks!

Interaction badges! If you sometimes have trouble interacting with people, we’ve got your back!

Here’s what you need to know:

RED (stop sign symbol) means: STOP don’t talk to me!  I don’t want to talk to anyone right now, or if I do, I will approach you.  If I initiate conversation, it’s ok to talk back.

YELLOW (triangle symbol) means: I only want to talk to people I know, not to strangers and not to people I only know from the internet.  If I initiate conversation, it’s ok to talk back, but please don’t approach me unless you know me.

GREEN (circle symbol): I would like to be approached by people interested in talking.  I may have trouble initiating conversation.

WHITE (square symbol): I can manage my own social interactions.

How can we help make the convention more accessible for you? You can always contact us at access@wiscon.info.

Request ASL/CART by April 1st; Create handouts for your panels

Katie Wagner
Access

Request ASL or CART for WisCon 39!

This year WisCon plans to expand accessibility by including CART (Communication Access Real Time) along with ASL (American Sign Language). CART benefits all, including Deaf participants, participants with mild hearing loss, participants who are deaf but aren’t fluent in ASL, participants who learn best visually, and ESL participants. The deadline to request ASL or CART is April 1st.  Bear in mind that due to budget limitations, CART and ASL will be offered during regular business hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As usual, CART will be provided for the Guest of Honor Speeches. If you have questions, please contact Katie Wagner at access@wiscon.net.

Request for papers and/or keywords for panels

As part of expanding accessibility, this year WisCon aims to provide copies of papers, keywords, and notes for most, if not all, of the panels. Doing so will help deaf/hard-of-hearing participants, CART providers, and interpreters follow along while increasing universal access.  In order to do meet this goal we need YOUR help!  If you are on a panel, please send a copy of your notes, keywords, or actual paper to Katie by May 20th so she can make copies before the convention. Please do not worry about grammar and spelling. First drafts are fine.  Katie can be reached at: access@wiscon.net.