20 Ways Universal FanCon Is Committed to Accessibility for People With Disabilities

For those who love geek culture, nothing is more fun than going to a pop-culture convention to surround ourselves in our favorite fandoms, meet celebrities who star in our favorite shows, and celebrate with like-minded fans.

Being a fan is a universal experience, but some fans don’t see themselves fully represented at these cons. The Universal FanCon (FanCon) grew out of the idea that the con experience should be inclusive and a celebration of the differences that make us strong.

“We wanted to create a safe space that celebrates fandom differently by including the many different faces and voices that truly represent geek culture. This includes women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, the autistic community, and people of color,” said Robert Butler, Universal FanCon co-founder and CEO.

The inclusion and accessibility mission of Universal FanCon is why our nonprofit got involved. Autistic and disability representation and inclusion in pop culture, media, and our communities-at-large is what we have been advocating for!

From April 27-29, fans will converge at the Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland, for this large-scale, 24-hour, inclusive event featuring special celebrity guests meet-and-greets and panels, Lightsaber Dueling Academy, music concerts, a comedy show hosted by Orlando Jones, 24-hour Arcade and eSport Gaming Tournaments, kids STEM activities, and other programming for cosplay, gaming, comics, anime, movies, TV, music and all things fandom.

But the most important news is that Universal FanCon is committed to making the event autism-friendly and accessible for people with disabilities! Here are 20 ways they are staying true to their word (and you can be sure more accommodations will be added as they continue to plan and prepare):

1. Professional diversity and sensitivity training for all FanCon staff and volunteers including service animal etiquette, privacy language / terminology / approach, services available, non-apparent disability considerations, and event logistics.

2. Panelist and moderator education.

3.Disability Access Passes – at a discounted ticket price ($49.99 for weekend access pass).

4. Free Caregiver Disability Access Pass (must be accompanied by a fan with a Disability Access Pass).

5. Accessible and gender-neutral bathrooms.

6. FanCon access information and dedicated staff readily available (info desk).

7. Line policy with laminated number cards for designated areas.

8. Physical and logistical layout considerations including single flow and double flow minimum widths, ramps etc.

9. Quiet Room access.

10. “No flash photo” stickers to place on individual passes, when requested.

11. Communication badges customized for specific needs.

12. ASL interpreters (upon panel request up to 14 days in advance).

13. Chairs and benches throughout the FanCon for resting.

14. Spaces for wheelchair users in the front and various rows in all rooms.

15. Designated seating areas for people who need to be near the front for disability-related needs.

16. Consideration for materials in Braille (upon request and based on need).

17. Priority to have all visual media featured at FanCon have captions or text transcripts.

18. Real-time captioning at selected FanCon events.

19. “Help Keep Convention Accessible for All!” messaging and elevator priority so those with disabilities and other needs can more easily get around the convention.

20. Security and personal safety including a zero-tolerance policy for bullying.

Universal FanCon’s inaugural event and commitment to accessibility and inclusion for all will be a shining example of what’s possible when we honor and celebrate our differences. May the rest of the world take notice.

Any questions about specific accommodations can be sent to [email protected]

For more information about celebrity guests, programs, panels, events and accommodations, or to purchase tickets, go to www.universalfancon.com. Use the code GEEKCLUB2018 at check out and you’ll get an additional 10% discount off of the Disability Access Passes.

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