selkiechick: (Default)
[personal profile] selkiechick posting in [community profile] access_fandom
I am on a committee of a conventions and we are talking policy. We are talking about medical documentation requirements for accommodations, and I am having a hard time finding the right words to tell them why this is a /terrible/ idea, and as a newb of sorts, I'd love to have some authority to stand on. Is there a good blog post or website out there already outlining the reasons why that is a bad requirement, and why?

Thank you.

(I promise, my next post will have content)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:18 pm (UTC)
wordweaverlynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn
Medical documentation requirements for accommodations????

1. It's expensive to con members.

2. Also humiliating.

3. Also difficult -- people who need accommodations face enough daily challenges; even if they have the extra spoons to produce their documentation, they certainly won't look forward to spending their time and money that way.

4. This policy sends entirely the wrong message: "You're a burden and you're probably lying, so we need to make you jump through hoops to prove you really need help, which we will furnish begrudgingly. Because people like you are not worth our time, energy, and accommodation."

5. Has anybody worked out the logistics of this? Who's going to check all that medical documentation? Who will check the passes to allow the hard-of-hearing into seats up front? How will you issue those passes? Or do you plan to make the disabled brand themselves in some way? Moreover, many ways of making a con accessible are part of structural planning -- like making aisles in the dealers' room 60 inches wide at a minimum (so wheelchair users can pass safely), or hanging signs at both wheelchair-level and standing-adult level, or having ingredient lists in the consuite.

6. If your convention goes with this policy, it will stir up a shitstorm of Biblical proportions. Have your fellow con members forgotten Racefail? and the recent scandals in sexual harassment? Believe me, the community of people with disabilities will rise up on the Internet and totally freaking trash the con, the concom, and anybody who supports such an inane and idiotic policy. And I can guarantee you that I will be one of the most vociferous.

7. Why would anyone think it's a GOOD idea?

ETA: My qualifications: I have been on the concom of FOGcon from the beginning, and I ran Access for several years. I also run the website.

Edited Date: 2014-02-03 07:22 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:57 pm (UTC)
wordweaverlynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn
That would be great!

The FOGcon Access Policy is based on Wiscon's, but you may find it useful.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:59 pm (UTC)
jadelennox: out of spoons (gimp: no spoons)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
HIPAA is one of the big ones I was thinking of re: legality. You really want con-running volunteers collecting, disseminating, and protecting individual medical records? Really? You don't see how much it will cost to train your people to do that legally, or deal with the fallout when they screw it up? Personally-identifiable medical records management is *hard*.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 10:16 pm (UTC)
lexin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lexin
Everything she said X10.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:20 pm (UTC)
boxofdelights: (Default)
From: [personal profile] boxofdelights
It's a bad idea because the goal of an access committee is to remove barriers, not invent new ones... isn't it?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:27 pm (UTC)
wordweaverlynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn
Succinct and smart.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:36 pm (UTC)
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rydra_wong
In addition to what's already been said:

*It forces people to disclose private medical information.

*Disabilities don't actually come with nice neat little information packs explaining all the situations in which someone may need accomodations. Demanding that people visit their doctors/healthcare providers in order to request a letter of some kind to "prove" that they need X is imposing a substantial extra burden on them.

*Seriously, why the hell should people have to "prove" their disability in order to use accommodations? What's the point, even? What sort of unfair advantage do they imagine that people are somehow scheming to get by pretending to have disabilities? It's not like people are generally going round going, "hey, I hear perfectly well, but I'm going to ask for a sign language interpreter just for shits and giggles."

*Is the con planning to not provide accommodations unless attendees send in information in advance "proving" that they need them? E.g. "we'll be in a wheelchair-inaccessible building unless someone books in advance and proves they need ramp access". Because that says very strongly "our default is to be inaccessible". And obviously effectively guarantees that people with disabilities can't choose to attend the con on the day.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 08:01 pm (UTC)
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rydra_wong
No worries, that makes a lot more sense of things.

But presumably you have precedent from Arisia of the "adult in tow" membership working fine without the need to produce documentation?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 07:57 pm (UTC)
jadelennox: out of spoons (gimp: no spoons)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
In the united states, it may be so difficult to ask for the documentation legally that the lawyers' fees to protect the con from an ADA lawsuit will be more money than the free aide membership. Requiring documentation for accommodations is legally fraught (as it should be).

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 08:04 pm (UTC)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
From: [personal profile] sasha_feather
The idea behind this is that someone might be "faking" a disability in order to get a free membership for their friend.

If they are-- big deal. Let it go. How much money is the con actually losing if someone actually does this? (Which is an unlikely scenario!)

If you force someone to prove their disability, it's a much greater risk, as jadelennox said above. It's basically about balancing needs-- the convention's need to protect itself from supposed fraud, vs. the member's need to feel safe and respected. The need to feel safe and respected wins out.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 08:30 pm (UTC)
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
This is similar to my opinion on the matter. If someone is faking it (which I find unlikely, though possible), and it's actually reported to the concom, it can be dealt with on a case by case basis and discussed with the legal counsel that the concom hopefully already has lined up. That seems, to me, like it would be better than a potentially disastrous PR experience where word gets around fandom about an inaccessible con.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 09:45 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: my God being a physical being is such total baloney in typewriter font on crumpled paper (physicality stinks)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
The U.S. Department of Justice has more than a hundred decisions on personal care assistants, aka aides or attendants. "PCA" is the magic acronym if you're searching ADA regs. Unfortunately, my search-magic is asleep this afternoon.

Are you requiring a minimum amount of work for someone to be "a PCA"? That is, must someone work at least 8 hours (or whatever) to ride the attendant seat? If so, I'd check with a lawyer, as there may indeed be case law on this.

There have been several ADA cases that I remember using but can't fucking lay hands on in search this afternoon. They were all Title II (government), in particular paratransit service complementary to mass transit. (You may know it as Dial-a-Ride or Door-to-Door.) The general pattern was: transit agency says, "You're not really a PCA because ..." and therefore somebody has to pay an extra fare.

Here were some tests transit agencies used to disallow a PCA:
- they weren't needed on the ride, but instead before or after the ride
- the work they did for their employer wasn't personal enough (trufax! A blind person couldn't bring their reader)
- they weren't specially trained/certified
- the fact that they were related to the PWD they worked for. This was a biggy! Transit agencies were deep into this mindset of "how dare someone do PCA work for a member of their family and NOT PAY AN EXTRA FARE"

The disability advocates said, "A PCA is like a service dog or a wheelchair. Why & when I use it is my business." We won this one: now PWD says, "I have a PCA." On that say-so, without any further documentation, the transit agency can ask if the PCA is traveling, and when that happens, the PCA travels at-no-extra-charge (nobody gets anything "free.")

Tactically, if "comping" the PCA is such a significant burden, I'd advocate raising the member/ticket price.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 11:33 pm (UTC)
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
From: [personal profile] firecat
As a person with disabilities I like how Wiscon has been doing this sort of thing. They don't require attendees with particular needs to ask for and receive a special sticker. They specially mark chairs for lip readers and CART, make chairs available in areas where lines form, allow people to come to the front of the line if they need to, and explain all these policies in newsletters and using signage.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 08:06 pm (UTC)
automaticdoor: "I care about this alot," cartoon image of a person with a fictional "alot" (alot)
From: [personal profile] automaticdoor
36.302(a) here likely applies, as I'm almost positive the con is considered a public accommodation.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-03 09:36 pm (UTC)
automaticdoor: Carefully recreated screenshot of Britta from Community ep 3x08 captioned "Britta Perry, Anarchist Cat Owner" (Default)
From: [personal profile] automaticdoor
Okay, as I thought (and wow, this is a useful brief):

Cons are public accommodations under the ADA because, though they may be privately run, they are leasing space from places of public accommodation. At least, I'm assuming you're holding this at a hotel, convention center, or similar? Basically the only way you get out of it is hosting it at a private club or in someone's home, but since this is open to the public, I still think it might fall under the ADA even in that unlikely circumstance.

Note: I am probably not a licensed lawyer in your state, but I did take disability discrimination law in law school! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-04 12:34 am (UTC)
soc_puppet: Words "Full of Rage" in dark red (Frustration)
From: [personal profile] soc_puppet
A couple years back, I found out that one of our registration people had interrogated an attendee's staff assistant over their right to be there as an adult-in-tow (which is a great name and I'm implementing it in our con ASAP) while I was away for a bit. I was furious, not only because I had assured the attendee over e-mail that it wouldn't be a problem, but because this same person had been the one to advocate against explicitly stating on our website that we comp badges for staff assistants of attendees. How the hell else would the attendee have found out that we comp badges for attendants, huh?

(I may have told this story here before, but only because it pisses me off.)

Ahem. That is to say, I know where you're coming from. I have in the past made the argument that an adult-in-tow is effectively necessary equipment for the attendee to actually attend, even if they do come with a brain installed. If the adult-in-tow also happens to enjoy anime, goody for them! They're still there to help the attendee in the first place.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-04 04:36 am (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)
From: [personal profile] krait
an adult-in-tow is effectively necessary equipment for the attendee to actually attend, even if they do come with a brain installed. If the adult-in-tow also happens to enjoy anime, goody for them! They're still there to help the attendee in the first place.

Exactly my thoughts! In fact, I'd be personally hoping they did have an interest in the convention; free admission doesn't mean free anything else, so they might well be spending money in the dealers' room or art gallery and making your (paying!) dealers and artists happy! Plus, I'd bet most of them will spend money in food areas, so that could make you happy (if food is part of the con service) or the rented space's owners happy (if it's their restaurant/vending machine/whatever)!

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