902: Indignity at WorldCon

I ran across this account of an accessfail at a major (perhaps the major) science fiction convention. The author, Rose Lemberg, raises important questions of recognition and dignity. I found the comments even more valuable, though — in particular, there’s a point where a convention organizer gets defensive, blaming the disabled attendee for not being better at finding accommodation, and others say, no, no, there’s really something wrong. Blogger and editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden sums up the difference between accommodation and access, although he doesn’t think the con did a good job with either one: “The point of disabled access is so that disabled people can, as best as we can manage, interact with their fellow human beings with as few obstacles as possible and with as little advance preparation as possible, rather than having to make elaborate plans in advance which then can’t be deviated from. Obviously, given how the world works, and given the limitations of already-built facilities, we can’t do a perfect job of this no matter how dedicated we are. But it’s hardly absurd to suppose that Worldcon might notice in advance that a program participant is visibly disabled — when they register, when they check in at the programming desk, or any of a number of obvious checkpoints — and ask if they have special needs that can be met . . . “