Sorry for the corny title. It’ll never happen again, I swear!
I’m so excited for Geek Girl Con! I haven’t been to a convention in quite a while, I believe that the last time was Kawaii-Con in Hawaii, when I dressed as No Face from Spirited Away. This is going to be absolutely fantastic. I’m trying to think of a cosplay I can do quickly but nicely, dreaming of sitting in on panels, and looking forward to fraternizing with my people, the geek girls.I’m a proud geek girl dating a fellow geek girl, but more are always welcome into my circle of friends.
I’m always eager to support activities, events, and projects which celebrate feminine geekery with a feminist edge. It’s a nice way of sending a message to the world that geek girls do exist and are a demographic worth noticing and catering to.
My excitement got me thinking about cons in general, specifically, how my enjoyment often hinges on whether or not they con organizers are considerate of the needs of their disabled attendees. I’m sure GGC won’t have any problems, but here are some things conventions should work on if they want happy autistics at their event. Everybody loves a happy autistic, after all:
1. Put a ban/at least a limit on perfumes and anything sprayed in the air. People with allergies, sensory issues and chemical sensitivities will thank you. Talk to the place where the con is being hosted, such as the hotel or convention hall, to see if it can be enforced.
2. Make sure there are quiet spaces scattered throughout the hotel where noise is limited. Add some comfortable seating there too, as a bonus, for people to unwind or relax when they’re overwhelmed. There’s lots of noise, people, and excitement after all, any person would want a place to take 10.
3. Pay attention to where the speakers are when showing films/doing talks. I don’t know if this is possible, but perhaps a special section could be marked as being the most “sensory friendly” in terms of being furthest from the speakers. Passing out free earplugs would also be grand.
4. If you’re showing a movie, captions! I have sensory processing disorder, and I have difficulty hearing what people say sometimes. At talks, an ASL interpreter at the front would be a major plus for deaf and hard of hearing folks. I know that the sign language used for intellectually/cognitively disabled people is different from ASL, so it’s not perfect, but it’s a step up. I’d also recommend being not-so-harsh on people who want to record talks; it could be that they just want to play it back so they can understand it better. I know I do that with important lectures at university.
5. Be mindful of the temperature at the hotel/convention hall. Those places are typically air-conditioned, but with all those people converged into one place, it can get a lot more hot and steamy in there than needs be.
6. Similarly, mind the lights. If they’re too bright/give off a buzzing sound, then it would be nice to be notified in advance so I could bring sunglasses or earplugs.
7. Try to organize some transportation, if it’s within the budget. A lot of conventions take place in cities with good bus systems, but some people can’t tolerate the bus (I have a hard time with it) so organizing rides from some of the hotels to the convention could help a lot of disabled people who wish to come to the con. Make sure there are handicapped parking spaces open at the front as well.
That’s all I’ve got. But autistic geeks are welcome to add their own to the comments.