IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION FROM ERIC THUT:Just about a year ago, I was in the middle of preparing for my first Netroots Nation, thanks to my DFA scholarship and the financial support of Kossacks who helped pay for my travel and other related expenses.
If you have a special need, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. Volunteers are available at the registration desk to assist with mobility issues or other needs.
Assistive listening devices are available in the general session room and some panel rooms. Inquire at the registration desk about which rooms are covered and how to pickup a headset.
Captioning service will be provided on a separate screen in the general session room. Captioning service is available for sessions in Room 210 AE, but users must bring their own laptop/tablet (we will provide a website link for viewing).
A limited number of scooters are available for rent at the registration desk on a first-come, first-served daily basis. If you’d like to secure your own scooter for the entire weekend, call Scootaround Mobility Solutions at 888-441-7575 to arrange delivery. We’ve also reserved tables in the main hall with easy access for those with mobility issues.
This is information to be printed in the program, so it is good to go!
It was a great experience, one I wish that everyone could share. I was lucky that my stamina held out (perhaps better last year than it might for this one) and that I could accomplish just about everything I hoped to do. But I was aware, thanks to the efforts of KelleyRN2 and other KosAbility activists, that getting to NN is not feasible for everyone and that once there, difficulties might arise that prevent people from getting the most out of the experience. For some people with disabilities, even the prospect of getting to an NN might be as likely as getting to the moon.
This diary, then, is meant to be part of the process of moving us along even a little bit toward the goal of making NNs as accessible and as disability-friendly as possible. In other words, it's my update on the current status of our little crew's efforts to institutionalize some supports. I may be missing some details, something I'd like to acknowledge early on; furthermore, there are still 11 days until the event begins, and more work will be done during that time. (Anyone with more updates to add, please feel free to do so!)
Please join me below the jump for that update. Before that, however, I'd like to thank TheFatLadySings for her efforts during the last few weeks to improve accessibility options for NN13 attendees, and Eric Thut for his support these past couple of months in responding to our earlier requests. Thanks, also, to postmodernista for making this platform available today.
KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic. There are two parts to each diary. First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and/or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.
When we entered into discussions with NN13 staff (primarily with Eric Thut), we listed five items we wanted to address regarding improved accessibility. I’m happy to say that we’ve made good progress on three of them so far, with other advances possible between now and the start of the convention.
The first is an official KosAbility Caucus. We will have one! It's scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 3:00 PM in room 113. (I’ll return to this subject later, after I review the other items we’ve requested action on.)
The second was to have a Volunteer Coordinator, a role which TheFatLadySings had offered to fill. That was also OK, especially since her presence meant another person available to carry some of the burden of coordinating volunteer activities.
The third was to authorize creation of a KosAbility Volunteer Corps. We have that in place now, so far in a rather modest way. Right now, we have these folks listed as potential volunteers—that is, people attending the convention who will be willing and available to help out when needed: ramara, Horace Boothroyd III, thankgodforairamerica, and me (peregrine kate). It’s not clear yet to any of us what might be needed, but we’re game! Of course, it’s not too late to volunteer, and any help that you might be able to offer in spreading the word in this regard would be most welcome.
The fourth was to generate some more information about accessibility of off-site locations, via the efforts of some of our local Kossacks who might be able to weigh in ahead of time. We did have someone offer to do that early on, but life intervened. I’m going to check with some of the other folks in the area to see what, if anything, at this last minute they might be able to do for us.
The fifth included a whole array of on-site accessibility aids, some free and some not. These ranged from having first aid/rescue stations at the convention center to captioning some sessions (especially plenaries) to a thorough labeling of food, possibly having some gluten-free options. It’s this whole category that’s still the most uncertain for me, since I’m not quite sure where things stand. Registration this year did include a small ($5.00) surcharge to be directed toward accessibility support; we have no idea where that money’s been allocated. I do know that we have pending requests for three mobility vehicles of one sort or another, and that we also have two people who have offered to subsidize their cost. TheFatLadySings has been the point person on this task of securing wheels for those who need them.
One other low-cost and potentially low-tech suggestion was made, to have a KosAbility Courtesy Reminder list widely disseminated. Our thoughts about this topic early on were that sometimes people just don’t know what they could do to be helpful, or don’t think about what they do that isn’t helpful. Hence, a list might be of use, one that could include reminders such as—Make sure you leave some open seats at the front of every room so people who need to sit up close can do so. Or, Don’t block aisleways, or leave items on the floor that could cause people to trip and fall. We had another couple of offers to work on that list, but again, life intervened. I’m not sure at this late date how much we could do toward this end, but I’m willing to entertain concrete suggestions.
OK. Now for the fun part—your comments and input!
First, please do tell us if you will be at NN13. If so, it will be lovely to meet you at the caucus, if not before.
Second, whether you’ll be at NN13 or not: what would you like us to discuss at that caucus session? We who are able to be there will be mindful of all of us who cannot, and though we cannot truly speak for you we can at least attempt to ensure that your concerns will be expressed.
Third, if there's anything else in this diary pertaining to NN13 about which you'd like to comment, or ask a question, please do. If I don't have the answers myself, I'm sure we can figure out who might.
Thanks for taking part in this dialogue tonight, which I realize directly affects only a small portion of us every year. With hard work and vision, I am hoping that each successive NN convention will be more and more accessible to all, so that the barriers that currently exist to full participation become smaller and less significant.