Road Trip: Accessibility At Events

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Road Trip: Accessibility At Events

So, yes. “Road Trip Accessibility at events.” Now, about me At every GAconf, I have a slide And it’s evolved from “I’ve done stuff” Wow… Is that you, God? Uhm, from “I’ve done stuff” to “I’ve done more stuff” and since then I’ve only continued to do stuff Uhm, long, short version I’ve been in the game industry for over ten years now, and for about eight of it I’ve been working in accessibility Uhm, I’m codirector of GAconf with Ian and fun fact If you look at the speaker line up, you’ll notice that every picture of me as a speaker it’s the same but Ian has photoshoped my hair to be the correct hair colour ALL LAUGH We will continue this tradition We’ll see what it looks like for next GAconf for you Uhm, before I get into my presentation, I want to talk about something that it’s not actually about my presentation Uhm, we’re all here and we’re advocating and I know when you guys leave here you’re gonna go back and you’re gonna advocate within your studios for accessibility But one of the things I wanna tell you, guys, is that it’s also really important to advocate with your players for accessibility Because gamers want to be able to play games with other gamers And when they understand accessibility, they’ll start championing championing for it as well So, one example of this is Shara So Shara is Shane and Tara: Shara And we do a lot of accessibility advocating, live streaming, and really trying to work with gamers so they understand And, also know that Shara is a sponsor and has been a sponsor of every GAconf And how Shane and I get the money to be a sponsor is we live stream and fundraise with just every day gamers And so, the Shara sponsor is every day gamers sponsoring this conference So, right now I have a slide up with a whole bunch of names that I’m not gonna read through But each and everyone of these guys donated uh, to us so that we could sponsor the game accessibility conference So, remember when you leave here, your work doesn’t just stop in your studio, you’ve got to also do that work with your fans So, what am I actually gonna be talking about today? I’m going to be talking about conventions, demos paces, any of that sort of stuff I’m gonna talk, literally from the beginning of getting into your events How to make sure everyone has a great time at the event How to put on awesome shows But also prepping your staff And one of the reasons I want to go into this is we talk a lot about how games are more than just entertainment They are a part of our culture They are a way to socialise They are means of escape And when you get deeply involved in that culture, you know that it doesn’t stop at your PC, at your console Right? You take that with you to other places And a huge thing for gamers are events And it’s an area that we’re many times excluding gamers with disabilities from Not on purpose Mostly because we don’t think about it And if we really want gaming to be inclusive, we need to not only make our products accessible, but we need to make every aspect of it accessible Not just our marketing, not just our in-game options, literally the physical space that you have when you go to an event And, I love this quote from Katy Jo Wright She’s the Gaming for Everyone director at Xbox “If you don’t intentionally include, you will unintentionally exclude.” And that’s what happens with our physical gaming spaces And so you need to think and plan and intentionally include these people So, Attending Events I don’t know if you noticed, very overwhelming for everyone It’s like, geez It’s a lot If you think it’s a lot for a person without a disability, imagine what it’s like for persons with disabilities It’s a literal minefield It’s a shit show It’s not a great experience in most cases That’s not great You know, even here, in these just four pictures, there are inaccessible things happening in every section So, one of the pictures has a standing only demo Another one which is Mixer, I’ll call us out We had some super blush carpet That’s terrible for wheelchair users That’s essentially molasses Uh, there was Fallout which had an elevated play space And so much There’s not any line management or line cues, like It’s insane So, I know you guys want to do better

Obviously, you’ve at least come here which is a great first step But, leaving here, you’re gonna go and you’re gonna make an event where maybe you won’t be there personally, but you’ll go tell someone I know a lot of people here probably are not marketers setting up events You can advocate So, you’ve decided to go What’s next? You literally have to start at Registration for your event When you’re inviting these people to come into your space, to share your creation with them So, why is Registration so important? Number one, it gives you the ability for people with disabilities to self-identify themselves and their needs And when you know what they need, you can plan and prepare for it There’s a reason we ask if people have allergies Because then we know what to take away if the caterer brings the wrong food, right? We can help prepare when we know And so, giving people that option is incredibly important But it also sends the message you literally thought someone may need something special Literally providing that option shows that you have thought about it some And of course, make sure you have an accessible way to register for your event Most of you guys probably aren’t making your own portal or whatever But if you do, make sure, if you’re using something that’s already well known, like Eventbrite, they’re gonna be handling that load for you But that’s something else to keep in mind The other thing coming at Registration So, we need to talk about Medical Passes That’s right We have a Leeloo Dallas Multipass Gif on the screen Uhm, so, Medical Passes Uhm, basically, a Medical Pass is something that you give to someone who will be going with another person to assist them in whatever they need It could be that, uhm, they will help them if they are tired It could be that they’re carrying important medication It could be that they’re If they have some sort of attack or reaction There are many reasons why someone may need someone to assist them or be with them And a Medical Pass is a way to do that Now, what’s really important about a Medical Pass is not only you should be offering them, you should not charge for these If you’re charging for a Medical Pass, you’re going to price people out of the event, because the cost of going is already going to be expensive And then literally, so someone can attend without the risk of dying, you’re going to charge them again No, don’t do that There have been companies at events that have tried to do this and they were met with extreme backlash for just that reason Uhm, another great thing is you should also allow people who’ve already purchased the badge to somehow denote a Medical Badge as well I’ve seen in a lot of cases, there’ll be two friends and they both purchased tickets to the event already uhm, second person says, “Oh, I need a Medical Badge.” Just let them upgrade their pass, whatever Uhm, and be sure to offer a separate pickup line One of the things that’s terrible about Badge Pickup is the lines And for someone who can’t stand for a long time or needs extra assistance, if you make them wait in the normal line to get their Badge, it’s not gonna work out So, if someone has denoted they need a Medical Badge, please give them the space where they can pick it up in an accessible way for them And you know, after Badge Pickup, there’s security And not all security is gonna work for everyone You have to be thoughtful So, I have a picture right now of Wolverine going thought a metal detector And obviously not working well The system they set up would work for a lot of people It’s not gonna work for Wolverine The same can be said with accessibility So, a real life example I was an event with one of my friends who uses a wheelchair but also had a bag on his wheelchair and inside it, he had oxygen tanks There was a “No bags” rule at this event We’ve got to go through security and security stops him “Can’t bring a bag in.” He’s like “It’s got oxygen tanks in it.” Security is like, “No bags.” He’s like, “I literally can’t breathe Can I please bring in the bag?” This went on for ten minutes before they finally allowed him to come in with his bag, which again contained oxygen tanks So, remember When you’re making secure entrances, you’ve got to remember there are going to be people who are going to need to be exceptions for the rule Be prepared Alright, so you’ve registered, you’ve gone through Security, we’re so ready for you now We have made it to the building Convention spaces are a whole other set of issues I mean, they’re busy, they’re loud, they are hard to navigate And a lot of times it’s,

specially for large events, you’re just being told where you’re going to go You don’t get to decide it But maybe for some reason, someone here in this room gets to think about where they’re gonna be putting their space One of the things you need to remember ADA compliant does not mean accessible APPLAUSE ADA compliant means that someone can’t sue you That’s isn’t a good experience I mean, I guess for you not being sued is a good experience but that doesn’t mean that the person trying to attend your event is having a good experience You’re gonna have to keep in mind everything from, you know, elevators, walkways, ramps, constructions you didn’t know about showing up outside the building MAN: Oh, yes! There’s a lot you’ve got to think about And it can be incredibly overwhelming So, what are things that you should think about when you’re setting up your space Number one. Signage I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone into a convention space and not known where the elevator was and no one else seemed to know that either and there were no signs to the elevator I’ve also had Actually, for those of you who attended the first GAconf we were working with the venue to set up signs to where the sessions where For the Accessibility Conference, they pointed the signs at the stairs You may realise why this could be an issue And so we had to work with the venue to correct them We were like, “No, no We need to direct signs towards the elevators because those are important.” You also wanna keep in mind your spacing Make sure you have enough room A lot of times uh, and I think this goes back to thinking ADA compliants You know, yeah, if you have the standard with walkway, that’s gonna be okay But if you have someone who needs a guide or a service dog, they’re not going to fit in an 88′ compliant entrance way Like, you have to keep these things in mind Uh, be sure to offer quiet places At the beginning of the conference we said we have a room that is just designated to be quiet You know, there are going to be moments like As Shell was saying, no one’s going to pick up the telephone and they need to take a break Make sure you offer that It’s really easy to overwhelm people And, you know what? If possible, if you don’t have that, maybe at least find some earplugs or something you can hand out That’s just something to think But, you know? That’s not your problem You’re not running the Convention Centre, you’re running your booth Well, good news I’ve got stuff for you to do too So, Common Booth Problems And this is very, very common at so many booths The number one thing that I see are standing only demos So, there’s a screenshot that’s being shown that’s a standing only demo And you can kind of see that the screen is actually tilting upwards, towards the person who is standing So you can imagine, if you’re a person attending this conference using a wheelchair, you’re definitely not going to be able to see that screen You may not even be able to reach the controls Uh, I’ve also seen the reverse People who make sitting demos, where they have some really cool chair that totally fits their marketing team and looks like Space Age-y or something And then it can’t be moved So now, there’s a demo that’s the right height but someone using a wheelchair can’t even get to the demo now Also, thick carpet I know people love thick carpet It’s molasses, again. Super hard Specially for people who don’t have power assist on their wheelchairs Uhm, the other things that’ll happen are You go to the demo and they don’t have any headphones You’ll go up there and they will have keyboard and mouse on a game that supports a controller but not offer the controller, when there are definitely people can only use one or the other The other one is not accessible line options We talked at the beginning about how having a separate line for the Medical pass for people who sometimes literally can’t stand that long because it’s too tiring They have not option other to get in this crazy ass line That means they won’t get in line and won’t play And if that happens enough, why would they come to an event? If it’s gonna be them checking out a bunch of places that they can’t engage with Why would they spend money to do that? Uhm, and then, the other thing I see all the time I have seen booths make really well intended thoughtful accessibility efforts and not put any signs up so no one knows they’re there If the only way someone can tell you they have an accessible set up is to fight to get to that accessible set up they’ll never gonna know They’re gonna leave Your hard work will be wasted Uhm, and that’s not even the demos themselves That’s literally just getting to the demos So, there are tons of problems with the demos themselves that you see in games Everything from Maybe the game has multiple controls options or remappable controls, the demo will only have one, or limited

Why did you? You had all this work for multiple control schemes because you knew people were different, but in the demo you didn’t put it there Uhm, I see a lot of times with VR that there won’t be a seated option Or even basic accessibility features in the games that you should probably have on for the demo, like subtitles, aren’t turned on or available in the demo But they’re there in the full game But they’re not there in the demo What are you actually demoing then? If people are trying to figure out if they liked the game, your game, and what you’re giving to them is a representation of your game, doesn’t have these things in it, you’ve probably just lost a customer And, this was actually something that got brought up in the Low Vision Panel, that gamers don’t know if they can even play the demo, without playing it So again, if they are going to invest in standing in that line, if they are going to invest in this space, what if they get all the way up there only to find out they can’t play it? There’s no way for them to know before they get to your demo if they can play with it or not Uhm, so If you can think about what’s in your demo beforehand, have an infosheet available so can people can look at it while they’re waiting, or have a QR code that can be scanned that links to an accessible PDF that a screen reader can read or something like that Like, just put thought into it Now, you’re having a great time but you’re here for more than games Maybe you’re on a panel, maybe you’re a talent, maybe you are a journalist don’t worry I’ve got you covered too So, I’m gonna talk about stages ‘Cause, men I’ve been through so many examples of this being terrible Uhm, so, when you have a stage, uhm, I still see a lot of times, that people will get their guests’ lists and then not check if any of the people on their guests’ lists uhm, have any disability or need some sort of accommodation Uhm, if you have a panelist on a wheelchair, you’re going to have to make accommodations You should know who that is Uhm, ramps or elevators are normally a huge problem at conferences So, three short stories, that all these happened within…the same year Uhm, I went to one panel where one of my friends uses a power chair We told the venue that we had One of the panelists was on a power chair “Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna set it up.” We did not trust them And luckily Bryce, wherever he is, got there early, to check And the stage was two, three feet high So, a little hard for a wheelchair to make So, we were like, “Okay Well, we need a ramp.” And they’re like, “Okay.” And they were gonna just add the ramp I was like, “Wow, that is super steep.” Like, “You can’t do that, either.” So, there was a last minute full tearing down of the stage to rebuild it lower so he could have the ramp Another time, I was on a panel They had an accessibility 88′ lift Another friend was in a power chair No one thought to measure the dimensions of the power chair against the lift We lucked out But there was less than an inch of clearance for his chair on that lift On another time, I was on a panel with Cherry, and they provided a lift and literally never tested it before we got there and it was broken Like, this is super, super common It happens all the time Sorry, I just really need to get all that rant about TARA EXHALES Thank you for entertaining that Alright The next thing you’re gonna need to keep in mind Live captioning and / or And / or “And”, for us today We had “or” previously Live captioning or interpreters for either the guests that are going to be on your panel or those who are going to be watching it If you’re doing a live stage show, and your goal is for people to stand around and watch, people who are hard of hearing or deaf are not going to be able to engage in your content unless you do these things Something else I see all the time is that you’re going to have a panel and everyone is in a super high chair except for someone sitting in a wheelchair That is super awkward Please, think about the sitting of your guests when you’re doing anything like that Have chairs where everyone is the same height And finally something that gets overlooked a lot is literally mics for guests Many times I’ve showed up and they’re like, “We have a hand mic.” And I’m like, “Nope.” “Quadriplegic They’re not gonna hold that What else do you got?” There are times when people show up with the warp-around head mic Again, some people are not going to be able to use that So, have a couple of lav mics just around because someone is probably gonna need to use it Uh, the last thing

that I wanna harp on on this area are lounges We’ve talked today about so much stuff and we’ve had several of our speakers talk about how they would come and they have like journalist stuff that they also do They’re reviewing, interviewing And, how many times have you guys gone to EAE3 and seen the journalist space is on a staircase on the second floor MAN IN THE AUDIENCE SCORNS Always. This is always where it is And, so, we’re excluding journalists and press who have disabilities because they are literally physically unable to get to the spaces where journalists and press are supposed to be And they have small doors, tight spaces, again, all the tables are super high And this is just because no one is thinking about it And why would someone with a disability would want to get into games journalism if this is the experience they have in front of them? Once they get started So, I say, I got a little bit negative there I get it. I get it I get angry, if we rant Let’s say you’ve done all this stuff You’ve absorbed every word I said You have made the most accessible goddam booth in the entire world You’re so ready None of that is gonna matter if you don’t train your staff If your staff isn’t trained, your good work will not matter And I can’t press this enough So, things that you’re gonna need to go over with your staff Literally the booth set up and the accommodation set you’ve made I have worked at booths where we had an accessible setup and I asked someone if they knew about it or how to use it and they literally didn’t know it was there So if someone had come up to them and asked to use the accessible space, they would have said, “We don’t have one.” But we did Like, you have to make sure your staff is trained You also wanna go through terminology And language change There are things that used to be okay to say 20 years ago that are not okay now Being able to explain the definitions, what words to use, what terminology you want You need to train your staff or they’re going to unintentionally say something offensive that they didn’t mean to say Uhm, you’re wanna want to tell them what a Medical Pass is and what that allows And I know I already had a slide separate on Medical Pass but I wanted to bring it back up here So, I was at a convention once with the same friend who had the air tanks And they were going to go into a Partner Only Lounge Space And with them was their brother who had a Medical Pass When they went to enter this booth space, They were told “No.” That he could not go in ’cause he was not a partner He wasn’t allowed in even though he had a Medical Pass And so, my friend had to choose between like, “I can go into this exclusive area that, I don’t know it’s I’m awesome Risk if I need my air change that no one will be there and, you know, worst case scenario I die Or not do that.” Like, obviously, he’s not going to go in if he’s not going to have the person who’s there to medically assist him specially in a case of emergency So, if your staff doesn’t know what these things are, it doesn’t matter that you’ve given them out And it’s also really important to just give the event staff a safe place to learn and ask questions because working with people you may have not worked with before or that are different that you is scary, and weird, and awkward And you don’t know the right thing to say and you wanna ask So, giving your staff a safe place before the event, where they can ask their questions that may come off offensive if they’re talking to someone they don’t know and they’re really well-intentioned, is incredibly important You also need to make sure you have a contact point person There will be hiccups in your accessibility journey Specially at an event So, you need someone who is in charge, specifically at the accessibility at these events You need someone that is both accountable for the accessibility of the booth but also empowered for the accessibility of the booth So that they have the influence and resources they need to make change But also, if something goes wrong, that they know that they need to improve Right? So, it’s both sides And I’ve seen it so many times That there’ll be an accessibility problem at a booth and you don’t know who to contact And then, two weeks later down the line, you’ll be telling the story and someone like, “Oh, if you’d only called me.” “I didn’t know I was supposed to call you No one knew I was supposed to call you You weren’t on the contact sheet.” Having that person set ahead of time

and having that in your staff training it’s going to be incredibly important So, in summery What do you need to remember? Event accessibility starts at Registration and planning Remember there Really evaluate, be cognizant and aware of your space specially during planning Think about your demo content What are you highlighting and why What accessibility features are in there, in your main game, that would be important to tell the world is there And, above everything else, make sure your staff is ready Because if you do all that work, and your staff isn’t aware, it’s not gonna matter And with that, I end my rant on event accessibility Thank you APPLAUSE