Wednesday, November 4, 2009

let's get real a minute

Please take the time to read this. It's not long, and will be (if you're doin' it right) mostly painless, i promise. Feel free to repost this.

Please, if you are putting on an event, make sure you indicate the level of accessibility in your promotional materials & callouts. Ensure that the indicated access level is actually the level offered at the venue and not simply what you wish or assume is offered. It gets old fast showing up having been told a space is "fully wheelchair accessible" only to discover it is actually only "semi wheelchair accessible", for example; or to be told an event is "accessible" but without sign language interpretation. Yes, this kind of transparency actually DOES make a difference for real live disabled folks & DOES impact whether & to what extent i'll support your event.
[And here's a novel idea i'd like people to consider: If your venue does have a wheelchair accessible entrance, why not make that the DEFAULT entrance, for everyone? Get people used the the notion that this matters to folks using wheelchairs and scooters; and yes, this matters to more than only those folks you identify as requiring a wheelchair accessible entrance; that more people will actually show up if you provide wheelchair access; that it actually does matter that it is disabled folks who are required to enter through some super secret, rocky, usually poorly lit, back alley entrance (at which there is never a safety or security person positioned, and often no reliable way of alerting staff to your presence). i promise, gimps are chock full of handy ideas!]

If you're unsure what level to identify your events, ask me (i say that just because, well, you know me, and we're talkin' here...) or any number of other folks equipped to provide accurate, up to date, critical information on accessibility. Use the skills and energy of those of us who have put ourselves out there on this stuff! Seriously. i dont do accessibility audits only because i enjoy them (which i totally do); i do them because i think it's critical that folks are aware of the spaces they're using, and not just the status quo able-bodied centric viewpoint, but from that of an actual disabled person (in conversation with several other variously disabled folks) who has to navigate the spaces you choose for your fine-ass events. i also know how important it is to me personally to have the information ahead of time, to not have to call 6 people to find accurate information, to not have to surf around the internet for an hour trying to find the info.
im personally invested in being part of creating a culture where it isnt always just gimps taking responsibility for this stuff, but all of our community. Part of that process is showing each other how its done, what information we need, and getting it out there consistently.

This really is just part of the work of organizing events, like any other part. i'm hopeful that more people will take this to heart, and apply it consistently, just as a matter of course.

i'm always open to conversation and questions about my take on this stuff, sharing resources, energy, time and experience. Let's get it the fuck on, people!


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