By Fiona Anderson
This was handled by Cuddles (Michelle Drayton), who is one of the organisers of Electrical Eggs, a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting Disabled Access for fans at conventions. Electrical Eggs has produced a lot of information for conrunners on how to look at what their arrangements are with a view to improving Disabled Access generally, and they are producing a UK handbook on the subject. Prior to Intersection, a form was sent out which people could use to inform us of their problems or possible needs. People who wanted to hire wheelchairs had to tell us that in advance, so that Cuddles could handle ordering such from a local supplier.
These are the final instructions that went into the Ops Manual.
Cuddles is in charge of Disabled Access, and she is contactable by bleep. She has a note of everyone who has registered with Disabled Access, and should be contacted if there are any problems.
She has ordered 7 wheelchairs, including 3 powered chairs to be delivered Thursday and removed Tuesday - these are only available to people who have registered with her prior to the con, who will be charged a fee.
There are also 4 manual wheelchairs, of which 2 have already been allocated The other 2 will be available for short-term use, on making a request to Cuddles. They will be delivered and picked up on the same days as the powered wheelchairs.
During the con, any unused wheelchairs, batteries, and chargers, will be stored in the AtCon Office. There will be signs up around the convention to designate areas for Access users, provided they and their helpers are wearing Access buttons. Cuddles will liaise with John Harold about these Access buttons etc.
By Andy Croft
The following is a brief summary of the official "A Brief Guide to The Disability Discrimination Act", details of which are also given. This new Act (which applies to the whole of Britain) will affect conventions, both by having to comply themselves, and by the improvements that sites will have to introduce to meet those requirements. The knock-on from the sites should mean that it's easier for conventions to work since access will have to be improved.
As an aside, there are a lot of disabled people who are not happy with this Act, or with the way it's being introduced and run.
Square brackets [ ] have been used below to indicate comments not based on the source document.
1. The provisions of the Act will come into force over the next few years, with the majority being effective from 1997 onwards.
2. The main aim of the Act is to end discrimination against disabled people, and gives new rights in employment, goods, and services, or with property. It also requires schools, colleges, and universities to provide information for disabled people.
[Remember that under the Management of Health and Safety regs volunteers count as employees and hence these regs will apply to most cons. Any convention running in colleges or Unis should find it very easy to get the information to pass on to their members. It should also help with planning since you will be able to have confidence in information provided]
3. The Act also sets up the National Disability Council on Employment of People with Disabilities (NACEPD) and the Northern Ireland Disability Council, to advise the government on discrimination against disabled people.
4. People with any form of disability (including disfigurement, hearing, sensory, or physical) which makes it difficult to carry out normal day to day activities have new rights under this Act. The disability must be expected to last for 12 months or more for the Act to apply.
5. Employers and service providers to the public must take reasonable measures to ensure that they do not discriminate against disabled people.
6. It will be against the law for employers or other bodies (including Unions) to treat a disabled person less favourably than any other person because of their disability, without good reason.
7. The employment part of the Act does not apply where there are less than 20 employees. They will however be expected to follow good guidelines. [ Note that most cons will in practice employ more than 20 people by the time that all the gophers are counted, as they must be].
8. Disabled people who have a complaint can take it to the normal industrial tribunal or ACAS for resolution.
9. The Act will affect anyone who provides goods, facilities, or services to members of the public whether paid or free. Private clubs are not included. [This means it is likely that some conventions will not have to comply with the rules. However those with day memberships available may have to do so].
10. It will be against the law to offer a disabled person a service which is not as good as the service being offered to other people. It will also be against the law to offer the service on different terms than those given to other people. The primary exceptions are:
a. if the health and safety of the disabled person or other people was
b. if the customer was not considered capable of understanding the terms of a contract
c. providing the service or the same standard of service would deny service to other customers.
11. It will be against the law for someone to run a service, or provide goods or facilities, in a way which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use the service or goods. However it will not be against the law, if the way the service is run is fundamental to the business, e.g. dim lighting being essential to a nightclub although it causes difficulties for some people with poor eyesight.
12. Equipment or other helpful items will have to be provided if it is reasonable to do so. E.g. induction loops for hearing aid users.
13. Physical obstructions will have to be removed or other methods be provided to enable disabled people to use the services if it is reasonable to do so.
14. Service providers will not be able to charge a disabled person more or extra to meet the cost of making it easier to use the service.
15. If a disabled person feels that they have been wrongly excluded from the provision of goods or services etc, they will be able to go to court and seek damages for any financial loss they suffered and for injury to feelings.
16. The National Disability Council, and the Northern Ireland Disability Council will be independent bodies that will advise the government on ending discrimination against disabled people, and on how well the Act is working. They will also advise on how to put the new rights into place by preparing codes of practise.
17. There will be minimum standards set for all forms of public transport so that people of all abilities can use them.
18. Consultation: before any if the measures are introduced there will be a period of consultation where the government will seek the views of people affected by the Act. This has already started and the new regulations will be introduced over a period of time.
The official guide can be obtained free in many different forms from:
Disability on the Agenda
Telephone 0345 622 633