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!

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