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As an event planner and a member of communities that are often excluded, I have learned a lot about what people need to participate and wanted to share (and learn) with you. This is a page on all the things people forget about accessibility [basic things to make it easy for people to be a part of something]. Can folks add to this list in the comment sections? When are times you have been excluded? What do you need to participate? Are there things (movements! organizations! listservs!) you are not involved with because of access or a feeling of being unwelcome? If so, I would be sooo thankful if you could share that experience so we could learn from it. xoxo– cripchick

Accessibility is:

  • childcare
  • do you have childcare so parents can come? will kids be safe and have programming so parents don’t have to worry about them?

  • sliding pay scales
  • do you have different payment options? if people can’t afford your event, can they volunteer their time or services instead?

  • different ways of getting information out
  • how do people hear about your events? is it just email and facebook or do you use mailings and phone trees too?

  • gender-neutral bathrooms
  • with a long history of trans and genderqueer people being harrassed and in danger when they go into bathrooms, do you have bathrooms where gender does not matter? a lot of times gender-neutral bathrooms are single-room bathrooms where disabled people can also go in with their personal attendants or parents can take their kids. this is helpful for everyone.

  • food options
  • do you ask about people’s allergies or if they need vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc?

  • wheelchair and other mobility-related access
  • is Point A far from Point B for folks that walk? what physical barriers are there?, if you’re going to close meeting room doors, are they heavy?, are there chairs for people? are the chairs wide enough that everyone can be comfortable? it’s cool to be creative about making things work but know that if basic access requires a lot of energy, people may not come.

  • structured schedules and awareness of time
  • always be aware of time. if you are planning an event, it’s important that people know the schedule and you try your hardest to stick to it. many autistic people cannot participate if you don’t do this. for disabled people who have to schedule out transportation, bathroom trips with personal attendants, etc, a schedule that is always changing means they will miss programming (don’t assume people can stay a hour later if you’re late on schedule!) if there must be schedule changes, be clear about them so people know.

  • alternative formats
  • if people request it, are your documents available in large print, braille, on a cd, or in another language? did you set aside money for ASL (or other languages) interpreters so people can request them? do people know that they can ask for these things?

  • audio description
  • is everyone saying their name before they speak? if you giving directions, do you know how to explain it to a person with a visual impairment? if you are watching a movie, does it have audio description or are you prepared to describe what is happening visually? if it is a multi-day event, can you arrange a time where people can go on a tour of the buildings so they know where everything is?

  • accessible language
  • does everyone know what you are saying? are you using word everyone knows and if not, can you explain those terms? do your documents and presentations have pictures that explain what is happening?

  • understanding different learning styles
  • are you using a variety of different formats? (e.g. media wise— documents, videos, audio, pictures. Presentation styles—large group, small group, interactive activities, art-making, etc?) are your rooms big enough that people can walk around or stand during your presentation if they want to?

  • access to quiet space
  • if you are hosting an event, do you have a space where people can go if they need to be alone? do you have flexibility so people can step back if they are getting overstimulated or tired? (for safety at youth events, this works well with a “buddy system” so people can tell someone they are taking a break). it is also helpful to have another lounge where people can go take a mental break and socialize. (this also helps clears up congestions in hallways)

  • commitment to being anti-oppression
  • are you committed to creating an environment where people feel safe? allowing people to make comments that are racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist, classist and more make it hard for people in these groups to participate. try to understand the historical context behind what you say

  • trigger warnings
  • if you are about to use a really graphic image, phrase, or story, do you let people know? are there kids there? people in your audience may be survivors of abuse or have PTSD, better safe than sorry.

  • arrangements for carpools/room sharing
  • can you arrange for a message board system so people looking for rides can share?

  • identities and experiences
  • are you respectful of people’s preferred gender pronoun, disabilities (not all disabilities are visible, go by what folks say instead of assumptions), and backgrounds? remember that no one ever owes you an explanation for who they are.

    What else is missing yall??

    Written by cripchick

    June 18th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Posted in activism,organizing

    51 Responses to 'accessibility'

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    1. Ways for people who cannot attend to participate, such as online streaming, online conferences, live chats, etc.

      And beyond just those food options, what about allowing people who travel in family units or in groups to have their own small kitchens to make food and save money outside of events?


      18 Jun 09 at 2:27 PM

    2. How much walking is required for the event — or just to get from your car/transportation to where you will be for the event? What about standing time? What is the seating like, can it accommodate larger persons, how comfortable is it. How long will ppl be there, breaks? What is the lighting like? (fluorescent is known to flare symptoms for some conditions) And pay attention to scents and chemicals (people w/ chemical sensitivities, ranging from perfumes to cleaning products) Do you provide notes to help people follow along and remember key points, and to have for reference afterward? Do you have anyone standing in lines and if so is there seating for people who cannot stand for long periods of time?

      Just off the top of my head.


      18 Jun 09 at 2:38 PM

    3. In addition to the seating and scent issues amandaw mentioned, are other potential neurological triggers for conditions such as epilepsy and migraines , e.g. flashing or extremely bright or shifting lights and loud noises easily avoidable? Is there an alternative way for individuals unable to experience a primary event (such as an art installation in a very small/bright/loud space) to appreciate the concept without exposing themselves to triggering conditions?


      18 Jun 09 at 2:59 PM

    4. Transit accessibility – if I could get somewhere via bus rather than having to deal with the mess of (not) finding someone in my area who could give a ride, so much the better.


      18 Jun 09 at 3:15 PM

    5. Captioning of any movies or other visual material with spoken stuff. Not all deafies need ASL, so you need to be prepared for either ASL translation or quick availability in written form.

      Are you making announcements on a PA system? Then can you mirror those announcements say with a written placard or with one of those red LED ticker tape things?

      If you have online materials and/or streaming available that contains audio, do you have transcriptions or captioning of the material as well?

      How about an FM system set up for those who have HA or other equipment that can receive these broadcasts?

      Good stuff…


      18 Jun 09 at 3:17 PM

    6. wow there is so much really good stuff here in the comments already! thanks yall! hope they keep coming. xo


      18 Jun 09 at 3:52 PM

    7. I really like your list!

      For parties and concerts, a couple of things would be good if organizers knew them.
      Dry ice is a nightmare that makes breathing difficult (I wonder how *anyone* can stand that) and some bright flickering lights can not only cause sensory overload, but they can trigger seizures as well.


      18 Jun 09 at 4:17 PM

    8. @gonzo — ooh! that reminds me! One of the best concerts i went to once had this space for deafies right by the speakers :) now that was fun. don’t know what provisions they made for the poor terp though o.O she may have been on the stage behind them :)


      18 Jun 09 at 4:43 PM

    9. What an excellent and practical post! Thank you and all the commenters.


      18 Jun 09 at 5:21 PM

    10. As one person points out, not all deaf people necessarily sign. Even some deaf people who DO sign may still prefer to use CART services (basically a form of live transcription/captioning via computer; this can be projected onto a screen for the whole room to see). If it is known that there will probably be several Deaf/deaf/hard of hearing people coming, then it may be worthwhile to consider both CART *and* an interpreter using the local signed language (if in the US, then ASL; if in the UK, BSL, etc.)

      Some people with a mild to moderate hearing loss may want an audio loop.

      A deafblind person may need either a tactile interpreter or a close-vision interpreter (meaning, an interpreter who would sign into their hand, or an interpreter who would sit close to them within their limited range of vision). In some cases it may be possible to share a close vision interpreter with one or two sighted deaf people. But if the deafblind person needs a tactile interpreter or if there are many sighted deaf people, then you may need additional interpreters.

      Andrea S.

      18 Jun 09 at 8:01 PM

    11. For people holding events that are meant to be targeted an a very international audience, consider the needs of people from developing countries.

      The average per capita income in some of the richest countries in the world (US, most of Western Europe, etc.) is as much as 100 times larger than the average per capita income in some of the poorest countries in the world. $200 may sound like a perfectly cheap conference fee for a 5 day conference, but consider what it means for someone for whom $200 is 3 months income. Then consider the issue of travel expenses and hotel expenses. If you are serious about including people from all countries (and not just rich countries) then consider

      1. As someone suggests above, alternate means of participation, such as teleconferencing to bring some of the content to other countries (remember accessibility features for these such as captioning etc, if necessary in multiple languages)

      2. Consider innovative ways to cut costs for participants from developing countries. For one international conference I know of, the organizers made arrangements with a few dozen local families to provide room and board for the duration of the conference for I think about $100 or $200 or so for the week–which was still a lot for people from the poorest countries but a lot cheaper than a $100-$200 a night hotel, which was the next cheapest that would have been available for them. What about travel costs? Can you make special arrangements with an airline for cut rates? Can you charge different rates for people from high income vs middle income vs low income countries?

      3. Consider that deaf people from other countries will usually not know your local signed language. If they sign, they will have their own signed language that may be completely incomprehensible to the one used in your country–even if the spoken languages are identical! (No, American Sign Language is NOT the same as British Sign Language. And, no, Mexican Sign Language is NOT the same as Venezuelan Sign Language.) Can you waive conference fees for sign language interpreters accompanying deaf people? Or, considering that many deaf people cannot afford to both pay for their own transport and also the transport of an interpreter (even if you do waive the conference fee), perhaps you could provide an “international sign language” interpreter — i.e., an interpreter used to interpreting in an international context. There isn’t really quite an “international sign language” per se, but there are a few certain signs that have evolved into a sort of international usage at international conferences (though not all deaf people will be familiar with these). Then interpreters and deaf people often teach each other signs from their respective signed languages to help smooth over interpreting issues in cross-linguistic contexts. This may need to be in *addition* to the sign language interpreters using your local signed language.

      4. Actually, before considering any of the above, consider whether the content of your conference as currently planned is even relevant to the needs of participants from developing countries. Do they address topics of interest to people from developing countries, such as micro finance, or fighting poverty, or capacity building for non-governmental organizations?

      For topics that appear at first glance to be of mutual interest — is the advice and recommendations likely to be imparted during the lecture likely to be helpful for people from developing countries? Being advised in strategies for getting the social welfare support you need or how to transition from welfare to work is useless to someone from a country that does not have a social welfare system. Instruction in using the law to protect your rights is useless to a person from a country where, not only is there no human rights legislation protecting their rights, but there may be a lot of laws that actively discriminate against them. Ideas about how schools can accommodate the needs of mainstreamed blind students may be harder to implement in a country where many schools have no books at all (not just for blind students but for sighted students as well) or no desks and no blackboards. (And by no black boards, no, I do not mean that they use whiteboards instead, I mean they have nothing) A curriculum idea that only costs $50 to implement in a rich country may be prohibitive in a developing country.

      A workshop on how wheelchair users can participate in high-end athletic activities may seem esoteric to someone from a country where the majority of people with mobility impairments cannot leave their own homes because they have no wheelchair. That isn’t to say that they would necessarily have no interest in wheelchair athletics, but they may also be very interested in considering strategies for increasing the production and dissemination of good-quality wheelchairs to people who need them–a topic often not considered in rich-country contexts.

      Andrea S.

      18 Jun 09 at 8:25 PM

    12. What a fantastic post and great comments as well!

      Free access for anybody attending primarily to assist another person. This would include interpreters and attendant care providers as well as less formal carers such as family members there to assist. (we have a formalised version of this known as a companion card being set up here –

      This is slightly outside the scope of your post but in the same vein – for recurring events, consider setting up a “sponsorship” type program where those who represent the most disadvantaged communities are provided not just with free entry but also paid accommodation and transport to/from the event, and whatever else is needed to lower barriers to entry as much as possible.

      I was thrilled to note that several other people have already mentioned making sure that access to the information is available to those who are not able to physically attend. I am bedridden myself, so no amount of accessibility will make it possible for me to physically attend an event. I find it endlessly discouraging how few people are aware that there are housebound and bedridden people who cannot attend no matter WHAT accessibility measures are in place – and how much wonderful information I have no access to because of this. I’ve written about access to information in a specific context – with generally useful information – on the Hoydens blog at

      Ricky Buchanan

      19 Jun 09 at 3:21 AM

    13. I don’t have much to add mujer pero I wanted to say that this is an amazing and thoughtful post. Sometimes it is obvious in our individual lives that needs to be put out there for us to work together in a meaningful way

      Mamita Mala

      19 Jun 09 at 8:09 AM

    14. [...] should read and reflect upon Cripchick’s post on accessibility and what that means for the various communities we are a part [...]

    15. Are there accessible portable toilets, where “accessible” means more than “you can roll a wheelchair into it”? Is there an alternative for anyone who wants more than such a container, it being so difficult to maneuver if covering the seat needing water for washing? Does the person feel rushed because people are waiting?

      Is the event on a floor low enough for people to use stairs if they don’t use elevators?

      Are the stairwell or bathroom doors locked?

      Is there secure storage for valuables and bags, coats, umbrellas? Are there loaner items available?

      What is the floor or ground like: carpeted (plush? area rugs?) tile, marble, wood, dirt, grass, gravel, pavement? How does that change when wet? Are there pedestrian paths within the parking areas? Are bicycles, roller skates, skateboards, strollers, or wagons allowed?

      What is the emergency exit plan?


      19 Jun 09 at 1:38 PM

    16. [...] accessibility | cripchick's weblog [...]

    17. [...] check out the post accessibility by cripchick…………. [...]

      Raven’s Eye

      19 Jun 09 at 4:58 PM

    18. how can we integrate child care into the conference or event? like not just having a place to drop the kid. but making sure that kids can be with their parents (especially babies who are nursing) and yet still be cared for when the parent needs to pay attention to something other than the lil one.


      19 Jun 09 at 5:18 PM

    19. THIS is one of the most amazing, productive, useful and kick-ass posts I have ever read on the internet. Can you please pass this along to ALL the conferences and forums that never bother to consider even a fraction of what you’ve raised?

      Beautiful, beautiful work.


      19 Jun 09 at 6:44 PM

    20. How’s the climate control system, if the event is indoors? If I enter a space so cold I need more than the usual extra sweater & gloves I carry with me, I have to leave. Then again, some people can get uncomfortably warm very easily. I don’t know whether there’s a happy medium.

      If the event is outdoors, is there plenty of shade for the photosensitive?

      All of the suggestions have been great.


      19 Jun 09 at 7:05 PM

    21. Something so simple even I forgot — drinks available and allowed, so that people who need to can take medications.

      A lot of places don’t even allow drinks, and those that do sometimes restrict it, and even then it would be nice to have concession/vending if you aren’t able to bring your own (toting a lot of stuff on public transportation can be draining), at the same time that doesn’t cost $5/pop.


      20 Jun 09 at 10:26 AM

    22. Props to the people bringing up triggers for epilepsy and migraines, I’ve been at events that I’ve had to leave because of flashing lights that trigger my complex partials. Something that I find helpful that other people have mentioned is a quiet room, I had my right temporal lobe removed to treat my epilepsy and have some sensory issues from that. I also find that if I have copies of the slides beforehand it helps me to integrate what’s being said by the speaker better because I have a solid copy of it that I can touch and READ in my hand.

      Thanks for doing this list!


      21 Jun 09 at 2:17 PM

    23. Yes, yes, yes, yes, times infinity!

      Thanks for including childcare on the list. I can’t tell you how many events I’ve skipped because this wasn’t addressed–events in my own city, that would otherwise be really tempting. If it’s going to cost me $60+ to hire a sitter, to attend your “free” lecture or reception, guess what? I’m probably going to pass.

      Addressing Maia’s good question, above–I once attended a small conference (as an invited speaker) with my nurseling daughter, and the organizers hired a nanny for us, for the weekend. She called me before the conference, and with the program in hand I was able to let her know which specific 2-hour blocks I’d need her to cover, as well as tell her a little about my daughter’s habits and personality. It worked SO well.

      Oh, and here’s another one (I don’t think it’s been mentioned yet): Is the stage/podium/pulpit ALSO accessible? Or is access only offered for the audience? (In other words, is the event space ready for disabled people to be up front and leading, or only attending and following?)


      21 Jun 09 at 6:03 PM

    24. [...] So how do we make sure our events, meetings, gatherings are accessible to everyone we are accountable to?  Click here to see an ongoing list of strategies for accessibility. [...]

    25. [...] in Access to Higher Ed, Campus Protests, Disability, Politics, Student Power Cripchick has a great, thorough post up on how to ensure that your events are accessible to everyone. Here’s the list of topics [...]

    26. thank god for this!
      and on behalf of my vegan self, thank god for number 5. I get sooooo angry when all that’s served at conference meals is piles of meat and cheese.


      22 Jun 09 at 12:08 PM

    27. inclusive language: Use the terms “person with a disability” or “people with disabilities” instead of “disabled people” – it puts the person first, rather than their ability first; they are people first and foremost!


      22 Jun 09 at 12:35 PM

    28. Great suggestions–lovely example of the “hive mind” at work!

      Our local SF con uses blue masking tape to ensure “a place at the table” for those of us who speech-read (blue stripes front & center seating at presentations) and those of us who use mobility devices (parking spaces marked on the floor so we don’t have to do the “excuse me, can you move that chair” shuffle).

      Supply fragrance-free soap in the public restrooms (helps keep everyone healthy when all can wash their hands).

      Provide detailed information on access provisions, and most particularly, be upfront about the known barriers remaining

      Welcome volunteers for short-duration tasks, for those of us who can’t do a six-hour shift.

      Integrate information re: accommodations into pre-event information, instead of segregating it under “special needs.” Helps educate the nondisabled about what’s involved in access provision.

      Jesse the K

      23 Jun 09 at 5:40 PM

    29. Re, Amy’s suggestion for handing out power point programs in ADVANCE of speeches:

      As a deaf person, I would find this enormously helpful also. I cannot both watch the interpreter and read the PPT simultaneously. This means that I inevitably lose one or the other. If it is a presentation in which comprehension of one depends absolutely on comprehension of the other (i.e., neither the spoken part or the PPT part can be fully understood without the other) then this could mean I get completely lost. If it were an all deaf audience with a deaf speaker (who understands the visual communication needs of deaf people) then the presentation could simply build in time for deaf people to read the PPT (i.e., the speaker would pause once in a while so deaf people could read the slides before continuing on). But with a predominantly hearing audience, being able to read the PPT *before* the lecture would help.

      Occasionally PPTs are offered to people AFTER the lecture (via email) but by then it’s often too late because often I don’t realize they’re going to do this until I’ve already lost half the content of the spoken content reading the PPT (and half the content of the PPT watching the interpreter).

      A speaker who merely reads from the PPT doesn’t always help as much as you might think (asides from being rather boring, I would think, for people who have access to both channels) — because I often don’t realize they’re doing this until most of the way through, when I’ve already lost a lot of information in both channels and gotten myself thoroughly confused trying to go back and forth between the two never knowing what pacing on my end will match up properly to the pacing of the speaker (if I wait too long to look at the PPT slide, then the speaker may move on to the next slide; if I spend too much time looking at the slide, or look at it too quickly, then I lose the context of the spoken part)

      Access to PPT programs in *advance* of speakers would help a lot.

      Andrea S.

      23 Jun 09 at 7:20 PM

    30. Don’t know if this has been addressed a minor point; given accessible restrooms; they should also be as close to the room with the main event as possible.


      23 Jun 09 at 10:44 PM

    31. [...] 23, 2009 at 8:47 PM (Uncategorized) (accessibility, Activism, Disability, Impairment) is here. (more in the comments at link [...]

    32. Another transfolk related point – don’t ask for gender on registration forms. People seem to put this on forms even when it has zero relevance to any event-related content, perhaps just out of reflex? If you absolutely must ask participants to specify gender, offer a space to write in rather than male/female checkboxes.

      Ricky Buchanan

      24 Jun 09 at 8:12 AM

    33. [...] Midlife and Treachery, cripchick’s list of things to consider when planning an event [...]

    34. In the transit category: don’t assume that people with mobility disabilities won’t be driving themselves. I’ve been to far too many events where the organizers assumed that PWD would be dropped off at the front by their chauffeur/companion/non-existent whomever, and therefore there was no need for accessible parking.


      25 Jun 09 at 10:51 AM

    35. An earlier commenter said “Provide detailed information on access provisions, and most particularly, be upfront about the known barriers remaining”

      YES, seconded.

      “don’t assume that people with mobility disabilities won’t be driving themselves.”

      Yes. And to carry on the general transit theme in additional directions:

      Remember the converse, that not everyone has a car, and not everyone drives. About 10% of the adult population in the US (sorry, don’t remember the source now, read it somewhere, maybe someone could look up the citation to use) does not drive for one reason or another including poverty, old age, disability, philosophical choice, lack of need (if in an area very well served by public transit), a combination of the above, or other reasons. And, of course, not all can afford a taxi cab. Events should be planned to occur in a location as accessible to public transportation as possible, ideally via more than one form of public transportation (people’s choice of bus versus subway/tube, for example).

      When giving directions to people for how to get to your event, please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not just give driving directions. Because, NOT EVERYONE DRIVES. (Oops, did I say that already? Well, unfortunately, some car-dependent people seem to need to hear it 50 times before it sinks in.) ALWAYS carefully investigate alternate modes of transportation and provide these instructions as well.

      Double check the accuracy of your travel directions for public transportation. (I have made transportation choices based on information given by the web only to find that the building that was SUPPOSED to be near one subway/tube stop was actually much closer to a completely different stop miles away. Or, one location I had put off visiting because it was SUPPOSED to be about 1.5 miles from the nearest metro stop (this was during a “bad foot” phase when I couldn’t handle that much walking) actually turned out to be only a few short blocks away. If I had understood how ridiculously short and easy the walk actually was I would have made the trip down several weeks earlier, when it would have fit into my schedule more smoothly. Don’t forget to include walking directions from the nearest public transportation. Be aware that some people may actually be perfectly fine with the idea of walking two miles and would still appreciate the directions for this — but of course many others may find even two blocks to be impossible. Be accurate in estimating the relevant distances involved. Be clear about any other issues affecting pedestrians, both with or without mobility-related impairments. For example, are there any really busy high ways that people might need to cross? If so, what is the safest path for navigating this (not only the shortest one)? Etc.

      Andrea S.

      25 Jun 09 at 7:49 PM

    36. YES at Andrea S.’s last comment. I’ve seen so many cases when the only directions given were by car– usually by way of roads that would be far too overwhelming for me even if I could drive, so needless to say they’re entirely useless for pedestrians.


      29 Jun 09 at 6:00 PM

    37. “be upfront about the known barriers remaining”–THIRDED! Don’t wait to be asked. Be honest and take responsibility for the gaps in access that you haven’t addressed adequately.

      “inclusive language: Use the terms “person with a disability” or “people with disabilities” instead of “disabled people” – it puts the person first, rather than their ability first; they are people first and foremost!”—hmmmmmm….. this isn’t a universal preference, even within the US (and it’s not a construction used much elsewhere at all). Don’t assume you know the preferred vocabulary, or even that there IS one, in a given context–ask.

      (At the Society for Disability Studies meetings, for example, you’ll hear “disabled people” quite often in presentations.)


      29 Jun 09 at 6:51 PM

    38. Time is an issue: At the most recent Trans Health Conference one of the only workshops on disability was so early in the morning I had a lot of seizures because of lack of food provided and lack of sleep. As a result I had to sit down for three hours building up enough strength to get home, and missed out on the rest of the workshops that day. Don’t tokenize!

      Another thing in regards to epilepsy triggers: if there’s an event photographer have them ask the people around them if they can take pictures with flash.

      Wolfie E. Rawk

      29 Jun 09 at 10:18 PM

    39. Re, events photographers, this time from a Deaf perspective:

      Make sure the photographer is sensitive to the needs of deaf people in the audience. Deaf people need a clear line of sight to the sign language interpreter(s). They cannot understand or follow any of the lectures or discussions if they cannot SEE THE INTERPRETER! And they cannot see the interpreter if the photographer keeps standing in their way! Make the photographer aware of where the interpreter(s) will be interpreting, and where the deaf people are likely to be seated.

      I think very minimal use of flash photography would be best where ever feasible (though unfortunately sometimes lighting conditions don’t really easily allow the photographer to avoid it altogether, at least not if you want decent quality photos). As a deaf person I tend to react more quickly to visual distractions anyway (because I have been trained into reflexes that respond on the assumption that some types of visual distraction may be someone trying to get my attention!) But as a person with attention deficit disorder, the effect is more pronounced. Even if I realize the flashing lights is something I should just ignore, the sheer conscious effort of steeling myself not to respond ITSELF becomes a major ongoing distraction, not to mention extremely annoying and (if it goes on a long time) even stressful.

      Andrea S.

      30 Jun 09 at 7:14 PM

    40. I thought the “accissable language” was a very interesting category – but do you also mean to have translation available?

      We had a really wonderful experience with having spanish-english translation available for Kid(z) City at the City From Below conference in Baltimore last march. Not only could we translate to our spanish speaking only child, like during storytelling, but then translate back her comments to the room, which was very interesting. Also for basic issues too, when she wanted something or to see her parents and we didn’t understand, translation was important.

      I am not bilingual, for me it was the language of chalk :) – in the exploring outside workshop I did, although there was someone there to translate words I felt we expressed more with our eyes, fingers, and drawing on the sidewalk together – plus all ages and also when the sun came out and it stopped raining and we could go outside.

      but I digress! I find this list very interesting – very good and clear! The subject I am interested in is radical childcare, which crosses over, really with so many other subjects. Accessibility is a huge subject! Having something to print out and share like this, could be very useful. I am making a list to help check over with planning childcare at one’s event. And gathering up ideas too for our project:

      and heres the reportback from kidz city, just in case anyone would be interested.


      4 Jul 09 at 2:27 PM

    41. China,

      I think “accessible language” usually refers to making complex language more “friendly” for people who maybe aren’t experts in the field under discussion, or who have had fewer educational opportunities, or who might have intellectual disabilities, language processing disabilities, etc. For example, instead of technical terminology likely to be known only to people with graduate degrees you could substitute more simple vocabulary that conveys similar ideas. Rather than long sentences with multiple dependent or qualifying clauses, use shorter, simpler sentences. etc.

      Language translation is certainly important also (though I see it as a separate issue). That’s mentioned under “alternate formats” in the list above–as one example, translation between English and ASL. Or as in your example, English and Spanish.

      One time I had the opportunity to participate in a training program for women with disabilities from 30 different countries around the world. There were many interpreters translating: English, Spanish, Russian, Kosovo (not sure of name of language; this interpreter translated from the Russian to Kosovo and back again because this interpreter didn’t know English), Ukrainian (also translated from Russian and back again because this interpreter didn’t know English either), American Sign Language without any mouthing (for a deaf woman who knew ASL but who could not lipread in English), Panama Sign Language (this interpreter translated from the spoken Spanish because she didn’t know English, but the deaf Panama woman spoke for herself in both Spanish and English), American signs but in English word order and with mouth movements emulating English speech (for a deaf woman who could lipread in English but had to learn ASL signs during the workshop), an oral Spanish interpreter who mouthed everything in Spanish (for a deaf woman who knew no ASL but who could lipread in Spanish), and a deaf interpreter who used an improvised mix of ASL, international signs, gestures, a few Brazilian signs, a bit of English and Portuguese vocabulary to aid communication for a deaf woman from Brazil who knew only Portuguese and Brazilian Sign Language (she taught her sign language and written Portuguese to the interpreter and the interpreter taught ASL and English to the deaf woman). (For my part, I alternated between the ASL interpreter

      I bet you were tired just reading this! But, we had some great interpreters and it all worked very well.

      (In case you didn’t already know — no, there is NOT a single international sign language. As a rough rule of thumb, each country has its own signed language that is NOT necessarily shared in common with other countries sharing the same spoken language. for example, Colombian sign language and Panama sign language are NOT the same. For that matter, American Sign Language and British Sign Language are NOT the same either. The reasons for this would take a long explanation of international deaf/sign language history that I’m afraid would take us way off topic!)

      Andrea S.

      4 Jul 09 at 5:04 PM

    42. Wow!

      I think that “accessible language” in your list is really interesting to me because I have been in situations these days, that I felt as an older person (in my 40s, in discussions with 20-30 years olds) I must just be out of the lingo – or times in groups that everyone knew stuff and had lots of in jokes and references, that feels at time like there is a group that is the most up to date and educated on these topics, and at times the language starts to get too much, like obscuring our communication and making me feel at times – not exactly stupid but that I could understand how a person could be made to feel stupid, but be there in an earnest way, pulled to the issue at hand and affected by it. I can see how this accessible language thing could turn into a really big deal – and haven’t seen it addressed before. Just to consider sometimes, some of the language you use and its not bad to use some commonly used terms at times, even though they aren’t exactly perfect. Like debating words so much, and evolving concepts/language/idiology really can get out of hand for those who are not into this thing in a daily way and have other things using up there time – for instance, it can be a real class/college issue I would think, but also really a kind of “in group” thing as well to be considered. I don’t know. Just think thats an interesting idea to be aware of.

      Also, I would suggest maybe putting language translation as its own category, because reading this online, skimming down it and all the comments – I missed seeing where you put it. And think that saying alternative formats, and talking about documents – that my mind was thinking it had to do with documents only, and didn’t pick up on the language translation in that category.

      so it might be helpful to break that into 2 categories?

      your list is really awesome though and your experiences are really interesting. best wishes!


      5 Jul 09 at 11:04 AM

    43. @ aj, who said, “inclusive language: Use the terms “person with a disability” or “people with disabilities” instead of “disabled people” – it puts the person first, rather than their ability first; they are people first and foremost!” – I’m sure you mean well, but please no! :)

      I don’t have “a disability”, it’s not something which belongs to me, or is my responsibility. I am disabled by society, because it is not (yet) organised in a way that allows me, with my multiple impairments, to join in most of what goes on.


      23 Jul 09 at 2:15 PM

    44. Coming back to this subject after going to the AMC for the first time – looking back, WOW, I see these (previously mentioned) subjects really came up for the parents I talked to:

      1. (Sylivia) And beyond just those food options, what about allowing people who travel in family units or in groups to have their own small kitchens to make food and save money outside of events?

      2. (maia) how can we integrate child care into the conference or event? like not just having a place to drop the kid. but making sure that kids can be with their parents (especially babies who are nursing) and yet still be cared for when the parent needs to pay attention to something other than the lil one

      Reflections to add to Maia’s subject, is not only nursing babes, but for other children too, younger children are not always comfortable with being left at childcare in a new place like that. It took a while for some children to get comfortable to stay in childcare without their parents, which is natural. But I could see the need for more support within the conference itself. In the intergenerational workshop for collective liberation – they put play-do, markers, and paper in the middle. I sided up to my friend’s daughter, and after getting to know her more, it being the second day, and having watched her some closer to her mom the day before: she asked if I would take her to the room with the other children and watch her/bring her back to her mom if she wanted. I was so honored! plus it was amazing how she could articulate her needs like that, I thought. I think creating support for children and parents, it also means building relationships and awareness of their needs.

      Also on a different tip: sometimes I felt overwhelmed and isolated–especially on the first day— as a person who is sensitive (for example, if you have mental health issues, travel can sometimes interfere wiht your sleep, I often can barely sleep when going to events in other cities, or it can trigger getting a little bit manic or depressed. if you have mental health sensitivies its good to cover the basics: food, rest, and just be aware of your self-care) and i wondered how then about the parents traveling, when me as a single person even felt overwhelmed. And now i am wondering about the peeps with disabilities too … how were your experiences?

      Even though things were great – I wonder about touching base with each other to support everyone’s needs for next year, if there are improvements we can work on – with this subject of accessibility

      One thing I am talking with others is about creating a check list to be prepared with, for parents. AND the idea of creating affinity groups. So peeps without children could check on those in their group with children, and make sure they weren’t getting left behind of if they needed anything. LIKE, I could have brought some breakfast back to the dorm rooms, for instance. likewise I could do other things for other folks to help create more accessibility if I know what they are. I like the idea of peeps forming affinity groups, maybe based on where they are staying, in there dorm rooms or with their table or organization or other things – so no one would feel left out in the middle of all this commotion, needing help but alone and not able to participate.

      I was wondering about creating a special space, like a tea room. Where you could get some herbal tea, maybe it would have sandwhiches and fruit and vegtables too. You could go there and chill/meet up with others – to center, or if feeling overwhelmed and unable to connect, just needing to regroup or rest somewhere and get it together.

      Just a thought! more like brainstorming. If we brainstormed on accessibility it could be good input for the next Allied Media Conference.


      24 Jul 09 at 12:33 AM

    45. aw, china, bummed that we didn’t meet (i think!?). you raise a million good points (esp tea room!!), going to make sure amc organizers see yr post!


      25 Jul 09 at 7:27 PM

    46. I am very tall – 6 foot 3 redhead. I do not think we met, I think I would have recognized you from your picture. I would like to be on the Kidz Track Planning committee next year, I hope Kate can do it again, I would like to join and expand it, create more support across the board, for the supporters as well, radical childcare in my opinion is about happy and not overburdened childcare staff. I feel what sets “radical” childcare apart from regular childcare is that its radical on every level: its programming, its respect for children, parents, caretakers, community, and how it fits into the larger event. Also to connect with the larger conference, to educate and inspire so more people leave going “I want to volunteer to do childcare next year”. If everyone does a little how much we can do together. To create something more ideal, if it is just a few days, here is our chance to be that work in progress.

      I was part of creating Kidz City @ the City From Below in Baltimore. Which was great, but its really alot of work to do these things and I wanted to check out the AMC as a participant before I asked to volunteer in any organizational capacity. (I did teach a workshop on making zines to kids though, and hang out a little, which is really easy to me. to be an organizer is a whole different thing.)

      I also like to work on propaganda – very much like the action + media stradegy.

      I liked how the AMC was all different groups and then networking with each other, (as many different issues deffinately overlap with each other, plus just, you know, its good everyone learning to work together for mutual aid) to learn and build alliances – but it was definately overwhelming!


      26 Jul 09 at 10:26 AM

    47. [...] enough, and they’re frequently a tool for demeaning us further. Cripchick and commenters have lots of suggestions. Also, [...]

    48. built in rest/break time. this echos the “structured schedules and awareness of time” point but i just want to stress how much pressure i feel to stick it out sometimes when there hasn’t been break time and peeps are working through important issues. or sometimes i feel the same way when at conferences and there are back-to-back workshops and caucuses/meetings during meal times. sometimes it’s best to identify a time to rest and reflect for real.


      24 Aug 09 at 5:22 PM

    49. hello! I was wondering if I may be allowed to print this list with credit to your blog – in the next DLYFB zine #3 which I am trying to lay out asap – let me know, ok? I think that linking accessibility and cross over between different needs, I like it and like this list alot! happy new years
      (yea, ignore that deadline. I am trying to get this together now, for real, though!)

      p.s. I think I remember seeing you that we passed each other coming in and out of doors, I was heading outside with noemi’s girls.


      31 Dec 09 at 8:50 PM

    50. [...] like to use them to create larger conversations about access… also like to use this with this accessibility check list that was created collaboratively (see comments below the [...]

    51. For the reason that a Rookie I am continually researching net meant for these types of news .Thank you:P

      Raphael Vanruler

      10 Mar 10 at 6:18 AM

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