The 2016 World Fantasy Con has updated its website with a disability and accessibility policy, found here. In other good news, the convention has arranged for ASL interpreters for some events, which is a great step forward and something I applaud.
1. There’s no indication of whether or not WFC will be offering the pre-Feb 1st prices for those of us who were waiting to find out if the convention would be accessible before registering. That’s a problem for me. As I said in my earlier post, I don’t think it’s fair that, after several years of accessibility problems, I should have to pay more than other members because I had to wait to find out if the con would be accessible.
2. This sentence:
“We have reserved the ADA ramp for the Sunday Banquet.”
That’s good, but doesn’t mention the panels. Will they be on elevated stages (making it easier for hearing impaired members to lip read), and if so, will access ramps be provided to those stages?
3. The accessibility policy stresses that the hotel is ADA compliant. That’s great, but I cannot stress this strongly enough:
ADA compliance does not always mean accessible.
Which was absolutely true when I stayed at the Columbus Hyatt hotel for World Fantasy back in 2010. The hotel was (mostly) ADA compliant, except, oddly, in the mobility accessible rooms, which did not meet ADA standards despite supposedly being mobility accessible. But the rest of the hotel was technically compliant: I could, for instance, get into the hotel bar, all that ADA compliance requires.
However, the hotel bar had only one bar, at a height too high for wheelchair users. The bartenders couldn’t see me, so I had to ask other people to order drinks for me. Far worse, however: the rest of the bar was mostly equipped with high tables and chairs. Nobody could see me, and I couldn’t join in. I was effectively cut out from conversations.
That’s leaving out some other fun stuff – the way, for instance, that the floors with suites, where the parties were, had no disabled bathrooms whatsoever, or the inexplicable placing of the handbars in the second floor public bathroom – far from the toilet and largely useless for wheelchair users.
Now, can World Fantasy do anything about this sort of thing? Probably not. And to be fair here, the issues I’m mentioning are not really that unusual in U.S. hotels, and these are minor issues compared to the problems I’ve encountered with other World Fantasy cons. And apart from the weirdness with the bathroom doors and the shower heads in the mobility accessible rooms, most of these issues could be worked around. But I mention them in the hopes of explaining why the words “ADA compliance” are not always going to be enough – and, I guess, to explain why I’m going on and on about this. Because I haven’t just encountered issues at previous World Fantasy cons, I’ve encountered issues at this hotel.
4. My emails to info at worldfantasy2106.org have still not been answered.
Still, this counts as progress, and I’m very grateful and encouraged to see at least some response to this.
And in the meantime, for proof that I am still writing about other things, my discussion of The Lion King, with bonus snarky comparison to Hamlet, is now up at Tor.com.