August 15th, 2014

Loncon3 touted its accessibility... reality? Not so much.

TL;DR version: the Excel center has gone out of its way to make an accessible space as difficult to access as possible. Every short path has been blocked, requiring hundreds of meters of re-routing.

Number one top problem is the Aloft hotel that disabled people have been put in. It's a nice hotel and I rather like it... but I'm still walking. I've watched people on scooters and in wheelchairs trying to navigate it, and it's depressing. I've been here less than 24 hours and I've already helped 3 people get into their rooms after minutes of struggling to do it on their own.

The second problem is the usage of the Excel. In very general terms, the Excel meets every guideline for accessible access... if you discount that every accessible entrance is dozens if not hundreds of meters farther away than necessary. On top of which, in every situation where you come up or out and find yourself facing a doorway to the next area, that doorway is locked. You are continually re-routed from direct paths to indirect paths dozens or hundreds of meters out of your way.

A prime example is the access to the programming space. When you leave the art/vendor/fan space there is an elevator which would take you directly up to the programming space. This is closed off. Instead you must route through three escalators and three fifty meter walks between them, or route to an elevator a full 100 meters away from both the fan space and the programming space.

When you reach the top of the escalator or handicap-accessible elevator, you will find yourself directly facing a walkway. If this walkway were open, you could reach the programming rooms in 20 meters. However, this walkway is blocked off. You are instead re-routed 50-70 meters down to the far side of the building, from which you go the same 25 meters sideways, and then walk 50 meters back to reach the programming rooms.

Why the expansive re-route? Because this location is more suitable for the fully abled security staff. Who, let me emphasize this, have their own elevator which goes directly from the fan space to the programming space.

Let's go back and review this. Handicap people are re-routed hundreds of meters, while fully able-bodied security staff have an elevator going directly from the fan space to the programming space. Futhermore, handicap people are re-routed dozens of meters around a scenic route so that able-bodied security staff don't have to walk more than a few feet away from their direct elevator route.

The amount of Fail in this situation cannot be fully expressed.

As is my standard response to non-optimal scenarios, I attempted to reach out and bring this problem to the attention of the Loncon3 convention programming and operations staff. Each of which department made it very clear that this wasn't their problem, it was someone else's problem, and wouldn't I please go away and bother someone else? After doing a full 1 kilometer loop being sent in a round loop of departments, I was in too much pain to make my way the 1/2 kilometer back to the programming space and have returned to my hotel room. Where I could not use the doorway which leads directly from the convention space to my hotel as it was locked, but had to walk 30 meters down a hallway to a much farther doorway, and then 30 meters back to the same point outside the direct doorway in order to reach the handicap hotel.