One of the prompts was what accessibility means to you personally, and I thought this would be a good time to talk about that.
I’m multiply disabled. I wear a hearing aid in one ear and am low hearing in the other; I wear thick glasses because I’m legally blind(and am completely blind in the right eye.) In addition to this, I have a chronic pain condition which puts me in a wheelchair for conferences, because the fatigue I experience on my feet after 4 days is more than I can bear in order to live my life.
Accessibility means never having to struggle to read my dice during high stakes game — no squinting no having people shout out the answer of my dice roll before I can declare it for myself. Accessibility means equal access at cons – it means being able to get into the elevators with my wheelchair – it means not sitting on a panel and having to correct someone’s use of the “r” word in public.
Accessibility means being able to read a character sheet by myself. It means never having to wonder if I need to bring my own interpreter to a panel so that Deaf attendees can participate in a dialogue which includes them.
I’m disabled, but my needs around accessibility no longer are just about my needs. I’m lucky in that my community surrounds me at each con, supporting me as I wheel from event to event – I’m lucky that when I am frustrated by access, I have people to lean on.
Accessibility means community. It doesn’t just come from policies at conventions, or game publishers shifting to a more accessible model of publishing. It comes from communities reevaluating what inclusion means.
Imagine how much less frustrating it would be if when you attended a con with a disability, people didn’t give you ugly stares when you got your badge at the special services desk. Imagine, if rather than people ignoring the wheelchair, as one rolls across the dealer hall floor, people stepped out of the way. It’d be amazing if a white cane was noticed, and people let me through, didn’t scream at me if I tap their leg with my cane.
Accessibility doesn’t just mean what happens at the game table – disability access means community shifting its expectations and stepping up to make room for us at every community event.
In the end, accessibility means never having to say “I’m sorry” for being who I am and how I function again.