laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
[personal profile] laurashapiro
Note: This post is addressed to friends of mine in the vidding community who have expressed anger and frustration that the current discussions around Vividcon's policies, accessibility, and trigger warnings are taking place.

Vidding is my fandom. For me, Vividcon is its nexus, the highlight of my year, my favorite place to be, where almost all of my very best friends are. It's where I see great vids and have great conversations, where I dance my ass off and have my mind blown. All of it is made possible by a fastidiously-organized concom and the vidders and vid fans who volunteer and participate. I love it.

Vidding is my fandom. Vividcon is my con. I am part of it. I feel responsible for it. That's why I'm making this statement.

The VVC concom asked people to offer concerns and suggestions about their Background and Policies document. The fact that many people have done so does not mean they are "bashing the con", just as giving critique in vid review does not make a person "mean". I have complete confidence that when the concom says "VividCon welcomes comments and feedback on the VividCon Background and Policies statement. We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to make a comment or write to us about their concerns" they mean exactly that. I respect the people on that concom, some of my best friends in fandom, and I know that they are sincere in wanting to hear criticism so they can learn and improve -- the same way many vidders who come to the con sincerely want criticism on our vids so we can learn and improve.

This is not about being "politically correct", a phrase that I have a lot of problems with. This is about trying to make Vividcon accessible and fun for everyone.

Regarding the trigger warnings debate specifically, I'm going to quote [personal profile] thuviaptarth here because she says just what I would have:
Last year's discussions about warnings in fanfiction changed my mind about warnings. I am firmly opposed to censorship. I don't have triggers myself. Generally I prefer to avoid vid warnings. I am almost certain that my position on my premiering vid will be "Choose not to warn." And I am in favor of implementing warnings for common PTSD and physical triggers, preferably as a separate list rather than included on the vid or in the vidshow itself.


The thing is, I am opposed to requiring warnings for "offensive content." That's something I consider a free expression issue. I am in favor of warnings for "triggers," which is more of a disability and accessibility issue. I don't feel that my artistic freedom of expression is best served by my incapicitating people with flashbacks or inducing a migraine.

Her entire post is worth reading.

A person who requests trigger warnings is not a crybaby. They are a survivor of trauma or a person with disabilities trying to protect themselves from serious harm. They are not asking other people to take responsibility for them. They are taking responsibility for themselves.

To return to the subject of the con itself: in order for to make Vividcon accessible and fun for everyone, some things will have to change. Change is upsetting, and it takes work. It's particularly hard for people who have loved VVC for years just the way it is. We feel protective of VVC and of the people who make it happen.

But I want to work for the change, because I believe that my pleasure is not worth more than other people's pain, and because as much as I love Vividcon, I believe that it's possible for it to be better. I want to be sure that everyone who is interested in coming to Vividcon can come, can feel welcome and safe there the way I do, can return home with the same cherished memories of fannish delight and deep thinkiness and social hilarity that I do. I want everyone to love it the way I do.

I want everyone to say, the way I do, "Is it August yet?"

ETA July 1, 2010 4:35 pm: I am reading every comment but I may not be able to reply to them all. At this time I am also not moderating comments, but will do so should it become necessary. I am working full-time, busy tonight, and going away for the weekend, where Internet access will be limited. But I am taking it all in. Please do continue to discuss among yourselves.

on 2010-07-01 10:36 pm (UTC)
vom_marlowe: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] vom_marlowe
I have read varying reports from people with disabilities who attended. Some found that their needs were met, others said they were not, some alternate opinions were said publicly, others (I think) were under f-lock.

I was reading it as someone who would like to go--and...that's kind of how I judge how I can go someplace, you know? That was the idea behind having the policies.

And, uh, I don't expect to be catered to, but I do expect the same basic accommodations/allowed difference that I expect from any business as per ADA. As the policies were written, the con would have been impossible for me to attend. Nothing that I would need would have excessively drained the resources of the con. I keep seeing 'but they're small'. Yeah, well, if I have to go to the room in a wheelchair with help to get settled in, and then I have to pee--I will need that same someone (who had been banned per the policy) from coming and helping me out again. Or have room for a chair if I needed it and so on. So no. I don't think I was particularly asking to be catered to, and yes, I find the attitude that the resources couldn't possibly stretch that far to be...unwelcoming to say the least. When Walmart is more welcoming, there's a problem. YMMV and all that.

on 2010-07-01 10:46 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
I think you could have a very informative, discussion with Morgan Dawn on that subject. I don't mean this as in 'you're wrong because', I truly mean that she might be able to tell you about her own experience - she also uses a wheelchair and has been attending the con for many years, so she might be able to answer your questions about accessibility. Abby also attended the con until she sadly passed away, so I think it's definitely possible for people with mobility disabilities to attend VVC right now, and will be even more possible if there is more focus on specific demands to help the people who want to attend/are attending rather than talking about hypothetical situations, which I feel dismisses the actual, on site, issues. You'll find that people at the con, even outside the concom, are more than willing to help make people comfortable, but there is so much discussion about policy that this aspect of the con gets swept under the carpet.

on 2010-07-01 10:59 pm (UTC)
amireal: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] amireal
Yeah, this is what I've been trying to articulate, both conversations on policy (last year's and this year's) felt like a lot of 'what about me?' which is a completely fair thing to have on the forefront of your mind and useful in policy discussions, but only to a point. At some point, you have to let it go until you're registering (in VVC's case, reserving your spot and taking your 3 weeks to decide) so you can have that specific conversation with the con itself about what they might need to change to help accommodate you.

on 2010-07-01 10:50 pm (UTC)
amireal: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] amireal
My apologies, catered was an inflammatory word and I hit send without reading through carefully. The thing I find interesting is that I *know* someone who was completely wheelchair bound attended the con every year until she died so accommodations were made, I just wonder if there's a serious lack of communication going on, as well possibly a regional difference as to how someone would approach this. Because I (and others) read completely different things coming out of even most problematic language and no matter what, I'd still have contacted the concomm with my exact issues and asked about what could and could not be done and had been done in the past. I'm not saying you wouldn't take this level of personal effort into your approach, I just feel like there's a communication gap happening somewhere and a lot of rage is spilling over because of it.

I also feel that no one wants to say, it's just not possible for everyone to attend and I still assert that doesn't' make it an unwelcoming con or concomm, that just makes life unfair and that sometimes you can't always get what you want.

on 2010-07-01 10:53 pm (UTC)
jonquil: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] jonquil
" I'd still have contacted the concomm with my exact issues "

The concomm asked people to say "Here is our policy, what do you think of it." People responded. In particular, Vom answered the question by calling out her own particular issues that made the policy unwelcoming.

Vom made the "level of personal effort" you are demanding.

on 2010-07-01 10:55 pm (UTC)
amireal: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] amireal
There's a difference between 'here is our policy please comment' and people talking about their hypothetical personal and specific issues in that setting and say, contacting the concomm as an attending or possibly attending congoer and giving the specifics and having a discussion about what can and cannot be done.

It's all well and good to have policy but it's impossible for that policy to be informed by every single person's individual needs. A policy is a general guideline to be followed and amended as needed, not the place to address specific needs.
Edited on 2010-07-01 10:57 pm (UTC)

on 2010-07-01 11:08 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
A policy is a general guideline to be followed and amended as needed, not the place to address specific needs.

This. In this particular case, the policy itself also states that it open and welcomes people to contact concom with their specific needs. Not seeing the problem here.

on 2010-07-01 11:10 pm (UTC)
vom_marlowe: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] vom_marlowe
If the policy says, "We allow X, but we do NOT allow Y" and I need Y, then my need *has* been addressed. It has been denied.

And yes, I'm going to judge whether a concom can do something by whether or not they say they can do something.

on 2010-07-01 11:29 pm (UTC)
amireal: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] amireal
The comment you're replying to was specifically aimed at the process that has happened in the last few weeks which I find has probably made VVC seemed far more limited than it actually is and I'm sad about that. I have a problem with the idea of a convention being unable to accommodate someone being labeled as unwelcome, but that's my own personal hangup, my issues are either too big to reasonably ask for a change (the chairs, they can suck) or can mostly be taken care of by my own actions so I don't have your experience here, but the concomm has even less. In this *particular* case my suggestion would be to talk to some of the people who've attending VVC with limited mobility, they're likely to know more of what the concomm might be able to do than the concomm itself. i.e. they've already figured out the solutions.

I personally think instead of all the specifics, if the concomm rolled it back to a more general "we will try our best to accommodate X, Y and Z, please contact us for specifics" only you know, worded better, it might be a better solution.

on 2010-07-02 03:31 am (UTC)
saraht: "...legwork" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] saraht
The thing about a general statement of accommodation is that it puts a fair amount of social pressure on the person needing accommodation. It is so much easier to read about something on a website than to have to email a stranger and ask them if they can handle [x problem, which can be rather personal]. I think a policy can be too detailed, definitely (I think it would be very unwise to post some kind of step-by-step "here's how, if feeling threatened, someone would have to prove that you're a a creep deliberately lurking in the wrong bathroom to make trouble rather than just an ordinary transgender person using the facilities as s/he is entitled to" procedure, as some are demanding), but surely some of the issues have recurred enough that the solution can be announced in advance. All in all, I think it's best to minimize situations in which people feel they need to individually request "special help"--that's very hard on newbies, shy people, and those who have to do a lot of it in the outside world.

At the same time, I really wish the people who are drawing comparisons to Wiscon in terms of what's physically possible (as opposed to language/attitude) would realize that Wiscon has approx. 1000 attendees, with appropriate space. VVC has 125-140, with crowded space. In a practical sense, that really does make a difference. I don't understand how that's even a controversial point. With 125-140 attendees, if you give away several memberships to aides/interpreters, as someone was suggesting, for instance, you're going to have a hard time paying the bills. Unless the price of the con is raised even more--and that excludes a whole different set of people.

I think the majority of the people who have been upset are expressing valid concerns, and though it is a painful process to accept that criticism (one I think the concom is handling gracefully at the moment), it will be better in the end that VVC has gone through it. But there is also a lot of infuriated commentary that is rather academic in the sense that it doesn't seem to consider either the historical experience of accommodation at the con (e.g., I don't think there's ever been a person requiring ASL interpretation at the con. I think it would be great if there were such people who wanted to come. At the same time, in the real world of limited resources, it's probably better to prioritize meeting the accommodation needs of folks who do come every year, such as the mobility-impaired) or the logistics of the con (people condemning the bathroom policy who don't get that, no, there REALLY ARE only two bathrooms in the con public space, and one's personal bathroom is no more than five minutes away, the con isn't just making that up to be obnoxious!). I'm not sure how much good denouncing VVC for not meeting the theoretical model of perfect equality that one happens to adhere to--a model that exists nowhere in the world, not even at Wiscon--does.

on 2010-07-01 11:36 pm (UTC)
amireal: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] amireal
Also, I think in this case, because you voiced your issues in the context of a discussion on policy it was probably addressed very differently and from a different context and POV (i.e. a little harried and thinking about policy not action). I still think if you talk to the people who've done it before and then the concomm, you might get a different response, or at least the attempt at a compromise. I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to say 'you're wrong' because that's not what I'm saying. I want everyone to feel they had the most opportunity to see if they could attend. If you can't, you can't, but if it's possible, making the decision with all the knowledge is something I prefer everyone does.

on 2010-07-01 11:49 pm (UTC)
vom_marlowe: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] vom_marlowe
I honestly have no idea what the hell was going on with that policy, because one of the reasons I'd even thought about VVC as possible was I'd heard it was so small (I don't think I could navigate some of the big ones--hallways too long) and friendly and I liked the people. I'm kind of hurt and defensive now, and upset, blah blah, so I won't comment long (also, holy bad pain day) but I appreciate that you want it to be possible for me to attend and want to do what you can to make that happen, if it can, and that...soothes the hurt some. That's kind of what I'd expected the policy to be, you know? Not what it ended up being. I read, well, not a LOT of policies, but some, for various large places/buildings/businesses so I have some idea if I can manage the stairs or whatever, and I've never read anything quite like the VVC one. Sadly, one of the things I needed and which they said they *didn't* allow turns out to be something that they DO allow, which saddened me further, because it hurt them when really it shouldn't have, and also the way they phrased it was strange (and hurtful). But anyway. Incoherent thoughts not coherent. I wish they'd had someone proofread that sucker.


laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)

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