memevector (memevector) wrote in bicon_special,

report from BiCon

Well the Data Bank did get voted into the BiCon Guidelines! Yay!

There were actually two proposals which came officially from the "Disability, equal access and special needs forum" (i.e. workshop during BiCon), and they both got voted in at the final plenary.

1. The Guideline which previously said:

BiCon literature should give a clear description of the level of disabled access available, and provision for people with disabilities should be a major consideration.

will now be extended to:

BiCon literature should give a clear description of the level of disabled access available, and provision for people with disabilities should be a major consideration. The BiCon team should make use of the BiCon Special Needs Data Bank.

The venue for approving additions and clarifications to the Data Bank will be a workshop each year at BiCon.

(That doesn't mean we've changed our minds about using this LJ during the year and as an archive, but it was pointed out at the plenary that that level of specific-ness really didn't need to be in the BiCon Guidelines - it just needs to be explained as part of the Data Bank.)

2. The Guideline which previously said:

BiCon should be made accessible as possible to people on low incomes by means including a variable price scheme/sliding scale.

will now be expanded to:

BiCon should be made as accessible as possible to people on low incomes and/or with special needs. Means should include a variable price scheme/sliding scale, an Equality Fund and one-day tickets. These methods should all be well publicised.
The Equality Fund should be used to remove or alleviate obstacles that could prevent people from attending BiCon.

I feel very happy with these results and I hope everyone else does too! Yay for everyone who's contributed!

A few interesting points arose around the second proposal.

One was whether parents & children were covered under special needs. A comment was made about the language - that being a parent, and potentially all of what we're talking about, might be better described under something about "diversity of the community". "Special needs" does have connotations that link it to disability issues in particular.

Another was whether, if we interpreted "special needs" as meaning something like "diversity of the community" it would also have implications for outreach to people from different cultures. It does seem like there's room for yet another proposal to go into the guidelines along those lines - e.g. "The BiCon team should give consideration to making BiCon welcoming to people from different cultures". (I'm not assuming that that proposal would come from the disability politics contingent, necessarily, though.)

A different question was about whether the Equality Fund was the same as the Helping Hand fund, or different. (In making the proposal, we had assumed it was pretty much equivalent, with a slightly different emphasis away from financial need and towards obstacles in general; but this hadn't been spelt out.)

As background to all this: Something which I don't think was made explicit during the plenary discussions is the status of the BiCon Guidelines. As I understand it, they are not exactly "compulsory from the start". The deal is they are a blueprint, from which the BiCon team has to get permission to deviate if they don't want to do it like that. The permission comes from the BiCon plenary which says "Yes, you are empowered to run the BiCon in such a year, go ahead and do it". If they don't ask to vary the Guidelines, then from then on the team is committed to abiding by them.

(There were several other new Guidelines voted in at this year's decision-making plenary, coming from a different workshop, but I'm not going to write about them right now. But one of them spelt out a smoking/nonsmoking policy, so a copy of that one would certainly be relevant here.)
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