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Recently, there have been a number of zine fests that have not been wheelchair accessible, including the NYC Zinefest, and Canzine. I also believe Expozine was held at an inaccessible spot.


What gives? What can we, as a zine community, do to make sure this doesn't happen? I know that the inaccessibility of these spaces is not even acknowledged beforehand, so people arrived at the NY Zinefest unable to get inside. I'm not sure if that happened at Canzine, but it doesn't matter. It should NOT be held at a inaccessible site.


I would urge anyone who knows of an inaccessible zine fest or event to let the organizers know you will not be attending and why. Access should never be optional or an afterthought.



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Thank you for your insight. Truly.
whatpeoplearethinking said:

You're making generalizations. Some people just enjoy getting about in wheelchairs. I have seen wheelchair basketball matches before where at the end of the game a bunch of the players get up out of their chairs and walk around. They don't need them, they just like riding about on them.

I would say that a person who is poor due to reasons out of their control is worse off than a person who chooses to use a wheelchair.

Bree Adorn said:

Comparing your lack of a budget for a hotel to someone having unavoidable physical restrictions is ridiculous.

I was tangentially involved with planning one of the Portland Zine Symposiums, and by that I mean I really didn't do anything other than go to meetings, but I know people put a lot of time and energy into organizing these events.  There are tons of things to think about and even important stuff can get neglected,especially if the organizers are new to it.  While it's not that difficult to make sure rooms are wheelchair accessible, ASL interpreters are provided, and so on, I think anyone planning to attend who requires something like that should drop the organizers an e-mail so they can see to it.  I know it's busted to have to constantly educate people about these things, but it also feels awful to organize something and realize you've inadvertently made it alienating to someone.  I disagree with James, I think there is a zine community, however loose, and it's up to us to make it the community we want.  One of the things that attracted me to zines, and I imagine a lot of other people, too, is how approachable everyone is, there isn't (or at least shouldn't be) any sort of hierarchy, there isn't the producer/consumer dichotomy of other media.  I can't imagine any fest/zymposium organizers would totally disregard a request to make their event as accessible as possible.

To that end, I think this discussion is really helpful and I'm glad it's happening.

I'm really glad Erin started this thread! Some friends and I are trying to get together an LA Zine Fest for next year (and by trying, I mean, we talk about it when we're drunk!), and one of the venues I had in mind is probably not wheelchair accessible, something that I stupidly didn't even think about until I read this thread. So that place is crossed off the list for sure now!

So seriously, thanks for bringing this up. It's definitely something that needs to be talked about!

this makes me sad and mad. zine spaces should be accessible indeed. accessible in all ways: for those with disabilities, blind, deaf, language barriers (at least get translators for common languages, or at least common languages in the area the fest is in), all different gender bathrooms, etc. (any other ways you can think of?)

I have no idea what to do about it since I'm pretty new to the community and haven't really been to any zine fests or anything yet, but I will remember to keep all this in mind.

thanks for pointing it out, Erin.


bumping this thread because this issue is important and relevant.

I agree with Dave R and also with the courtesy with which he expresses himself.


I tabled at the NYC zine fest and a few days before, was approached by some others who had signed up to table asking that I join them in protesting the fest's lack of free childcare.


Perhaps some of you who do not have children are not aware that this can be a big issue for parents ... or perhaps you do as I can think of several articles in fairly well circulated / high profile zines about the need to make sure people with little children feel welcome at activist spaces and events - which we can extend to zine spaces and events.


I should say that my own kids are now old enough to rumble around a zine fair on their own and depending on the location, even take the subway home together if they're bored. And when littler, they were not the Yay!!! FREE CHILDCARE types ... they were more like, I want to stay with you and take the money, or go around and touch everything types.


Anyway, I bring this up because of several reasons :


1) Potential zine fest organizers are using this thread as a sounding board for what the public needs in order to have a good, safe, accessible, well-provided-for zine fest


2) No one else has mentioned childcare




3) Although I believe in the righteousness of free childcare at  zine fests, in this particular instance, I wished the request had been filed a lot earlier than a few days before and I was distressed by the rude, accusatory tone of some of those asking for it, not wanting to have that tone assigned to me by association. I reckoned that the organizers would be plenty stressed out anyway because the fest was but a few days away - loading the cannon  with red hot terms like insensitivity and boycott and firing every couple of minutes from a variety of directions seemed unproductive and rude to me. Better a firm, polite, vigilant pressure that starts well before deadline.


For those wondering how this specific story ends, at the zero hour, the wish for free childcare was accommodated. The provider was associated with one of those making the request. It did not get much business, though if it had been in place by the time the posters and ads were being drafted, perhaps it would have.

It seems like for a small or one off event, where even finding a space can be difficult, our expectations should be lower. We did one Seattle convention in a gallery up a flight of stairs and no one thought about it, but it sucked even for able-bodied folks hauling all your boxes up a long flight of stairs. Live and learn. And discussions like this are great for people thinking of doing their first event. Most public spaces - galleries, VFW or community halls, punk clubs, libraries, public schools and rented halls will already be ADA accessible because they have to, which makes them a great option. There's really no excuse for a large established zine fair/conference to not think about these larger issues, I help put on a pinball and arcade show each year that draws 3,500 people, it's definitely something talked about and planned for. Although I think free childcare is pushing it in what expectations people should have when coming to a zine convention. Bearing children is your choice and parents should be responsible for making arrangements for their own children, being disabled isn't a choice and is totally different.



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