Guest Post! — Gen Con Tips & Advice Series

Jakub Nowosad a.k.a. Arathi: master of Law & master of Political Science, Polish convention organizer since 2004, RPG player since 1996. Redactor and reviewer in Polish RPG websites. He is trying to popularize board games and RPG in his region in Poland. He has also served as an ENnie Awards judge in 2014 and 2015. He has a tumor in his spine resulting in muscular atrophy of the left side of the body. You can reach him online: Google+ at +JakubNowosad, Twitter @Arathic. 

As a disabled person sometimes I have a problem with conventions. In this text I want to tell organizers, participants and other handicapped persons a few words. Most of the things below are an outcome of my career as a convention organiser for almost ten years.

For organizers:

I know we don’t always have a possibility to choose a place with good infrastructure that will be helpful for disabled. But as an ex-organiser I think you can make some convenience. First You can make a special point for buying tickets with priority for disabled. Second You can sensitize volunteers and helpers on the needs of the disabled. It’s always helpful when a physically impaired person can ask someone from the staff for help. Having a spare wheelchair and a medic is helpful too. In Poland most conventions require from underage attendees to show a permission slip from parents. I think parents can write down in a permission slip  helpful information about theirs kid: allergies, chronic illnesses, and disabilities. Adult people can have an ICE card (In Case of Emergency) – i.e. special card in a wallet where is written information about family (address, phone number), blood type and other medical info. Organizers should have a few spare ICE cards for people who want it (You can find them on the Web).

Special symbols (such as badges or an armbands) could be useful with identification of disabled. Organizers can save first row of seats in the seminars just for disabled.

With all this, physically-impaired people could have a better time in the convention.

For convention attendants:

A lot of people have some medical problems. Sometimes hidden. When you are in the crowd remember people are around you may have medical issues. Try not to be the one who is always rush others. When you are entering a room don’t scuffle to enter as fast as you can. Rush is not a good advisor and can be harmful for others.

A good thing to do is to find another chair if you sit in the last one in the room. Sometimes at a convention or conference I feel powerless when I can’t find a place to sit. And a lot of people are sitting around and pretend they don’t see me or other handicapped. So look around, try to help if you can (with luggage, chair, box etc) and don’t just think of yourself – convention should be a fun for everyone.

And finally as a physically-impaired person I have a few words to other people like me – don’t be macho. I know it’s hard to live when you have a serious illness. But pretending that you can lift those boxes or luggage by yourself, will not help you and can be harmful for your health. It’s not shameful to ask someone for help – in Poland we say: Your crown will not fall from your head. 😉

Note from Doctor StrangeRoll: The Indianapolis Convention Center is an ADA facility; they are supposed to adhere to all the laws for ADA accessibility. If you find this is not the case, please let a member of the Convention Center staff know immediately.

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