Over the last few years, there have been numerous instances of SF/F conventions failing to provide an accessible experience for their members with disabilities. Though accessibility is the right thing to do, and there are legal reasons for providing it in the US thanks to the 25-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, many conventions continue to have no trained accessibility staff, policies, contact information, or procedures for accommodating their members with disabilities. As Congress said in the opening of the ADA, these “forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem.”
All members of a convention should be treated with dignity. These are people– 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. Though many conrunners have been working towards this, others have not– and even have resisted making these changes.
We the undersigned are making a pledge. Starting in 2017, to give conventions time to fit this into their planning, the following will be required for us to be participants, panelists, or Guests of Honor at a convention:
- 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.)
(Thanks to Michael Damian Thomas, Lynne M Thomas, and others for crafting the language for this. And here are my own thoughts about why accessibility is important.)
Edited to add: There’s a twitter hashtag for discussions about this. #AccessibleCons
If you want to pledge with us, you can just respond below with “co-sign.”