Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Mental Health Accessibility in LARP - part 2

If you haven't read Part One yet, it's the best place to start as it introduces the subject of accessibility and mental health in LARP, as well as explaining the scope of this guide and looking at the early stages of running a LARP. Now on to part two, looking at your venue and sleeping arrangements.

The site/venue itself

The physical characteristics of a venue may not throw up as many barriers and difficulties for people with mental health disability as for those with physical disability, but there are still some things worth considering.
  • If possible is there are room available as an OOC quiet space.
    • Ideally this is separate from the crew room and bedrooms.
  • Try and find out facilities as early as possible and give this information to players.
    • This can reassure players on things like toilets, layout, cooking areas.
  • Having wifi or decent phone signal can help players who use online resources or apps to manage their conditions.
  • Having a site map or clear explanation of where OC and IC areas are can be beneficial, especially in large or unusual venues.

Eaxmple:  Mark can have sudden changes in mood or emotion due to his BPD that can be difficult to deal with. He asks the organisers if there will be a “safe space” he can go to in those times so that he can manage his symptoms appropriately. They tell him they have designated a small room to be an OOC quiet room that he can access at any point.

Sleeping arrangements

If your event is overnight pay attention to sleeping arrangements. A good night's sleep can be the difference between functioning and not to some players. What makes a good night's sleep can vary dramatically.

  • If you plan on having IC sleeping or camping, then designate an area to be OC as well for those who need the OC space.
  • If possible let people see the room plans in advance so that they can mentally prepare.
  • Assigned bunks can be beneficial - consider assigning groups to rooms or putting up a sign up sheet prior to the game.
  • Be open to requests that certain people not share rooms.
  • Some players may benefit from single gender rooms or a designated trans friendly room.

Example:  
Aoibheann has social anxiety and can not sleep in rooms with people she doesn’t know. She asks the organisers if she can reserve bunks for her player group. The organisers assign each group to a room in advance and post the info online before the event, as well as labelling each room at the event.

Example
Liam has night terrors due to his bipolar disorder and is concerned about sharing a room because it can be frightening for other people. The organisers reserve a small room away from other players that he can sleep in. They also let ref taking the “night shift” know about it and Liam lets them know his preferred method of handling it.  

Crew

Though this guide generally applies to players, there is another group to consider: your crew. Crew members may also have mental health disabilities which may need some accommodations. All points can and should apply to crew but there are some special things to consider.


  • When assigning NPC roles, keep in mind that crew members roles may differ.
  • Be honest and clear about what you need and expect from your crew members. 
  • Have enough crew that crew can take breaks and get some sleep.
  • Make crew briefs clear, and outline expectations and various scenarios well
Example:
Harry's antidepressant's make them very drowsy after 10pm, they ask if they could be excused from night-time NPC and ref duties. The Organisers agree and give Harry roles during the day and make sure there is a different ref on duty after 10pm.

Read Part Three for the guide on plot and rules.

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.
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