Friday, 1 January 2016

Guide to LARP accessibility - Part 2

This guide is lengthy and has been split into a few parts. Part one started at the very beginning of organising your game. Part two takes a look at your venue and sleeping arrangements.

The site/venue itself

This is a tricky one because sites can vary so much depending on game. Many people with disabilities accept that not all areas of a site will be accessible – it's a frustrating truth. There are things you can do to mitigate this and still make a site inclusive, this largely involves talking to your player and thinking about where stuff happens.
  • Make sure as much of your indoor space is step free or has step free access. This is essential for common and dining rooms, sleeping areas, toilets and washrooms but, you should consider all spaces.
  • If there are steps or lips in doorways then provide ramps or alternative access.
  • Building access isn't just for people in wheelchairs – people with mobility problems, balance issues, chronic pain or chronic fatigue all benefit from level access.
  • Do not put plot critical items or sets in rooms that can't be accessed by all your players.
  • Consider the terrain and how rough or steep it is. Can your players navigate it safely? Look for alternative paths for less-able players, or make sure there is provision for changing a set piece or access.
  • Consider where action and events will take place. Can your players reach them or will they miss out on things. Does your big encounter have to take place in the ravine or can it take place nearer to the main hall?
  • Make sure your venue has adequate seating, and if possible a variety of seating types.
  • Consider heating – temperature can affect many people's conditions. Make sure there is heating AND ventilation, that you know where heating controls are and convey to players if the venue is likely to be hot or cold so they can plan their kit accordingly.
  • Look at the lighting. Does it highlight trip hazards properly? Do players with vision impairment need extra lighting? Very bright, coloured or flickering light can also be an issue for people with sensory problems such as migraines, autism, vertigo or epilepsy. Refer to the booking forms and if a player notes one of these issues consult with the player.
  • Consider designating an OOC quiet room for people with disabilities who need a time out or quiet time. Keep this room quiet and free of too much sensory stimulus.
  • Make sure there is an accessible toilet and washroom – large enough for a wheelchair, with handrails and a low sink. If it requires a key make sure to give the key to the player or see if it can be left unlocked for the duration of the event.
Sasha uses a wheelchair. She is worried she won't be able to access things in the woods over rough terrain. The Organiser shows her the graded access path through the woods that she can use as a short cut and says that all events will take place near to this path. Other players will not have access to this path (unless accompanying her) and she doesn't have to use it if she is confident on the other paths.

Lee has epilepsy that can be triggered by fluorescent lights. The event organisers find out that their venue uses strip lighting so decide that they will bring their own lamps and use daylight bulbs to create the bright light effect they want in a safe manner.

Sleeping arrangements

If your event is overnight pay attention to sleeping arrangements. A good night's sleep can be the difference between functioning and being immobile to some players. What makes a good night's sleep can vary dramatically.
  • Find out early if your venue has bunk rooms and what size and configuration they are (i.e. how many do they sleep).
  • If the site is camping only, see if you can designate a room for indoor sleeping for those who need it. Another option is to designate an area of field for disabled camping that is close to facilities including power sources.
  • Offer IC and OOC sleeping options, even if your event isn't 24hr. Some people will need to nap during time in and they may prefer OOC to IC for this.
  • Find out what bedding, if any, is provided so that people can plan accordingly.
  • Make sure there are at least some power sockets available in sleeping areas – some people may use a C-Pap or have other medical equipment and will require power.
  • Have back-up options available. Some people's needs may change unexpectedly.
  • Consider reserving bunk rooms near to bathrooms for disabled players. Additionally, bunk rooms near to the main play area might be preferred by some disabled players so they don't have to far to walk.
  • Make sure rooms and beds are navigable by players in a wheelchairs or who use a walking aid.
  • Consider setting up comfortable areas in IC places where players can rest easily without dropping OC.
  • It can be helpful to give details of nearby and inexpensive B&Bs or hotels so that people have another option.
Rose has Crohn's Disease so the organisers make sure she has a bunkroom near to an accessible bathroom.

David has a back injury that requires careful rest. He requests that a bottom bunk is reserved for him as he can't manage ladders. The organisers also move the venue sofas into one corner and leave a few blankets lying around with the IC reason that squatters were using the building before the characters arrived. This provides an IC rest area for David and others that need it.

NB: I'm not an expert and I may miss things out but I've tried to cover as much as I can. I have tried to give examples where I can and I hope I have not misrepresented anybody. We are all different and that means I can't cover every possible accommodation.
Part 3 covering the plot and game rules can be found here!

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