Hey all. A group of friends, consisting almost entirely of former GTers, at a Supernatural Convention in Las Vegas right now had a scare re: Epilepsy. I was asked by the writer of this post to share it on GT and to encourage you all to share it as well. Quite a few of my closest friends have epilepsy, including a best friend in research who is at the forefront of activism. Another best friend, formerly known as tasterainbows around these parts, wrote up this great piece. Please read and share. As always, I am including a picture of one of my pets and a reminder that I am one of your friendliest benevolent overlord moderators to bribe you all into reading ;) But seriously, accessibility at Cons is a huge issue and this is upsetting so be warned. Sorry in advance for wonky quote formatting. Kinja is being finicky. The woman telling the story and our friend who was denied accessiblity are both amazing women and deserve much more. I thank them for sharing their story with the world. We want this out there so the policy can change!
Dear Creation Entertainment,
I am currently at the SPN Vegas Convention with a group of friends. One of my friends has epilepsy. She arrived for the con yesterday (Friday) and realized soon into her first panel that she would not be able to sit in the room where all of the panels are because the flash photography from the other fans could easily trigger a seizure for her. She moved into the hall and spoke with a couple of different volunteers and at least one Creation staff member who told her that unfortunately, there's nothing that they can do. I understand that she was offered a refund - but with the understanding that she then couldn't attend the rest of the convention.
I came in today and myself found a Creation staffer who was already familiar with the situation (I don't have her name, but she was at registration) and she told me again - there's nothing they can do. My friend is welcome to sit in the hall outside the room so she can hear the panels, though. If the hall outside were a vaccuum, this might be a good solution, but unfortunately, this is the same hall where people queue up for autographs and photo ops. I went back to registration again and the staffer and I tried to brainstorm some ideas that might be feasible, but I was again told, there's nothing we can do.
We expressed surprise that flash photograpy is allowed because it's not at most conventions and the staffer, "Well, it's a con, that's what fans do, they take pictures."
My friend saved a lot of money to purchase tickets to this convention - she traveled on a bus to Las Vegas from Salt Lake City. I understand that this situation may not have arisen before and I understand that it's out of the ordinary, but I do not think that we are out of line for expecting this convention to accomodate my friend's disability in some way. I offered the possible solutions of seeing if she could sit in an adjoining room (where it would be quiet) with a door open or possibly sitting behind the "curtains" around the stage where the flashes would not be evident, but was told that neither of those are possible. My friend was told the only way she can receive money back is if she does not continue to attend the convention - that's the opposite of what she wants. She is here to enjoy the convention, the fans, the panels, and everything else and her disability shouldn't prevent that from happening.
I went into the hall for Misha's panel and at the very end was called out for a "medical emergency" - my friend had had a seizure out in the hallway. I ran out to her and sat with her for a few minutes until she felt well enough to go back to our room to rest for a little while. During that time, I was told by a volunteer that "they had called someone." However, no one came by to check on her except for a fellow attendee who is a medical assistant. Quite frankly, I don't find this acceptable regardless of the previous events.
My friend doesn't want me to make a fuss - she would prefer to just try to get through the rest of the convention and enjoy her time here. However, I still think this is a situation you should be aware of. I think you should have plans to deal with it in the future. I think you should have some idea of how you will handle disabled fans who want to attend conventions and might need special considerations because of flash photography concerns.
If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or contact me at [redacted].
Thank you for your time.
Sleepy Monster for your troubles.