Tag Archives: accessibility

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!


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!

Announcing our new Disability Lounge

an illustration of a person using a wheelchairGreat news!  WisCon is incadescently proud to announce our new Disabilities Lounge, for those with disabilities — visible and/or invisible — to connect, decompress, and otherwise hang out in good company.  No need to act tough, happy, grateful, or “inspirational.”  Just bring yourself and be yourself!

We are currently looking for hosts who self-identify as disabled–absolutely no need to tell us how, it’s just important that you do–to help us staff the space. Contact rooms@wiscon.net if you’re interested in helping out.

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

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.