Soooo…it’s been a little while, hasn’t it? I’ll be honest–it’s because of a couple of rather rough quarters (winter quarter in particular) and a fair amount of traveling that I’ve been relatively out of contact.
But it’s summer at long last! I’m done TAing for a course that only had 12 students (only 11 of which ever showed up, actually), two of my colleagues and I rocked our presentations at Comic-Con, and now all that’s left for me is preparing for my exams.
I gotta be honest. As much as I love Comic-Con (and I really do–so much that I’ll do a separate post about it), it falls into the category of “Aw crap, I gotta travel again?” for me. Even taking the train and not flying, it still means I’m going to have to prepare and pack and schedule and behave myself when we’re running a full hour behind schedule because whatever seems to have happened.
Comic-Con also provides its own set of concerns for the differently mobile like myself. What really bugs me are things that seem to fall into the same categories as when I travel elsewhere by plane, just with their own peculiarities specific to SDCC.
Number one is that if you are in a position where you can expect to be dealing with people who may be physically disabled, don’t act like a total dick. Not kidding. I mean, that should be a no-brainer, but far too often, it isn’t the case. Comic-Con staff really fell down on the job in this respect. The folks staffing the Deaf and Disabled Services booth were great, and the organizers/admins for the Con are well-prepared to accommodate just about everyone, but when it comes to the staff out in the Con itself? Yeah, they tended to suck in this regard, with a real lack of that sensitivity and preparation, and the attitudes seemed to get more abrasive as the weekend dragged on.
Not all, mind, but many–the lack of support and awareness, let alone the outright lack of common sense was striking at times. The people the Convention Center contracted with (an event management firm) knew exactly what they were doing and how to do it, and did it with politeness and good grace. The CSC folks, who are, I swear, at every major event I’ve ever been to, tended to fall somewhere in between.
So yeah. Avoid the dickish behavior. Train your front-line staffers on how to best work with people with disabilities so that everyone is able to participate in the week’s festivities fairly and equitably.
Point number two is this: for the love of all that is good and holy, people–be aware of your surroundings. I was on crutches for this event. The maneuverability on those things sucks noodles. Same for folks in wheelchairs or with canes–there’s a lot less freedom to make quick movements. And being on crutches = easily tipped over.
I am watching where I am going, but I can’t predict when you’re going to run right in front of me, or stop suddenly, or, hell, even rush past me and clip me. This is why I ask that people be aware of who and what is around them. I know everyone wants to get in line for Ballroom 20 NOW, or to chase a celebrity across the floor, or to get an autograph right this moment, but please watch out for the people around you. Be courteous toward everyone, especially those of us who can’t get around as easily. If you see someone in a wheelchair just trying to get down an aisle, consider letting them go ahead of you. Someone on crutches can’t get a door open? Hold it for them–few things are as crappy and, let’s be honest, flat-out embarrassing as getting stuck in a door.
Get out of the Con “tunnel vision” that plagues us all at times, and we’ll all have a better time. (I would also ask for some consideration of personal space–too close to me and I may get bumped and stumble–but let’s face it: there’s no way, at something as packed as SDCC, that’s going to happen.)
We’re all brothers and sisters in nerditry. Let’s make SDCC a nerdvana we can all be proud of.
(Actual SDCC “Holy crap this was so cool and I met a whole bunch of cool people like the Foglios and Jennie Breeden and J Grant and I got SO MUCH cool stuff and oh by the way I presented on a panel” post coming soon!)