Conference Etiquette and Accessibility Practices: Creating an Inclusive Space for Everyone

FemmeCon is dedicated to creating a safe, loving, accessible space for all conference participants. Taking into consideration the various ways in which Femmes across the country and the world construct Femme based on region, class, race, ethnicity, identit(ies), size, access, and ability, the Femme Collective strives to create a safe place for open dialogue among a plethora of Femme-identified people and their allies. We thank you for your support and active participation as we work to make FemmeCon as inclusive and socially just as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about the below policies and information, please contact our Accessibility and Awareness Chair, JAC Stringer at access [at] femme2012.com

Conference Etiquette to Foster Safer Spaces

Femme Con strives to promote an inclusive, safe, and secure space for all Femme Con attendees. This includes services such as media consent forms, conflict mediation, peer counseling, physical and emotional safety concerns, language inclusivity, and promoting egalitarian identity affirmation. There are many ways to foster safe spaces, starting with a couple key points. You can help us make FemmeCon the best it can be by utilizing the following information.

Be Self Aware

We ask that participants be aware of their surroundings and of how much emotional and physical space they are using while navigating conference spaces; do you need three chairs for you and your belongings or will just one do? Keep an eye on how much you are speaking; whether it is in a workshop or a casual conversation, sometimes our excitement to talk about ourselves can make another person feel quieted. Could the volume of your conversation possibly hindering that of the people beside you? If we all practice self awareness, we can be sure to enjoy one another’s company and make enough space for everyone!

Cultural Competency and Accountability

FemmeCon is dedicated to empowering every facet within the complex web of identities, experiences, and expressions that create our diverse Femme community. We ask that participants do the same by recognizing and respecting difference and diversity within and outside of the Femme spectrum. We believe that each individual has the ability to define what cultural elements and language are relevant to their experience. We ask that participants be conscious of their own experiences and identities when they speak as well as when they consider the experiences of others. We recognize that there may come a time when you hear or see something that does not feel good to you. Please be open to participating in constructive dialogues with people whose experiences or perspectives may differ than your own. We ask that participants be respectful when challenging perspectives and work to create a conference experience that is both affirming and accountable. We understand that if you meet someone who has an identity or experience you are not familiar with, you may have a lot of questions. Sometimes people are willing to discuss their identities or experiences, but sometimes such questions can make a person feel isolated, weird, or tokenized. We ask participants to make an effort to self educate whenever possible. This may mean that you hold on to your question until you can find a resource like a book or the internet. Participants may also find resources for self education by talking to FemmeCon organizers or checking at the registration table.

Gender Diversity

FemmeCon recognizes that Femmes come in many types of gender identities and expressions and we are dedicated to providing gender-focused safer spaces including restrooms, language and pronoun awareness, and related gender specific resources. We ask that participants be attentive to the gender presentation and expression of others, but to not assume someone’s gender identity based on their outward appearance or behavior. Since a person’s gender identity can not be identified by how they look or act, the best way to be sure of using the correct language is to politely ask. For example, instead of asking “Are you a woman or a man?” one may ask “What is your preferred pronoun?” Instead of asking “What do I call you?” one may ask, “What language would you like me to use when I refer to you?” If you are unable to ask, or feel it may not be a safe space to ask, it is best to refrain from using gendered language by using words like “that person” and all-gender pronouns such as “they.” By being attentive to gender diversity, we can create FemmeCon spaces that are comfortable for all gender identities and expressions.

Inclusive Language

FemmeCon strives to create inclusive, attentive spaces and programming for all attendees. We ask that participants be mindful of their language when referring to, or talking with, other participants. This includes respecting a person’s chosen language for themselves (such as identity descriptors, community language, or pronouns) and avoiding exclusionary or assumption based language. For example, “Welcome, everyone” is preferential to “Welcome Ladies.” As no one person or experience can represent an entire community, we encourage participants to use “I” statements when sharing thoughts and feelings as well as to be cautious of generalizations. Please be careful not to assume who is in the room, or who is attending the conference or event. If you need to reference identities or communities that are different from yours but you are not sure what language to use, it is ok to say, “I am not sure what the right word to use is…” Your fellow participants will surely be able to open a supportive, educational dialogue with you.

Photographs and Media Consent

FemmeCon provides photo consent forms as well as stickers for people who prefer not to be photographed. Be on the look out for photo consent stickers when using your camera. Don’t take photos in crowded communal spaces; ask permission before you take a photo; and be sure to ask permission before tagging a person’s image or name online. If you would like to post an inspirational quote or experience online, be sure to check with those involved first.

Triggering Elements

Some content or topics, such as those related to violence, accounts of aggression, and/or prejudicial (sexist, racist, transphobic, ableist, homophobic, queerphobic, classist, sizeist, etc) language, and certain types of touching or movements may upset or distress certain conference participants. Before speaking or acting, please be sure to consider whether your stories or motions may contain any of these elements, and if they do, let those around you know before you begin your story. This way we can empower your self expression and enable your access to support while also providing a safer space for people who may need to care for themselves

Financial Accessibility and Scholarships
We do our best to provide financial assistance to those in need. To date, this has only covered registration costs and limited travel/housing reimbursement. We strive to assist attendees of need as much as possible including low conference costs and scholarship opportunities. Details on financial accessibility are here, and the scholarship application is here.

Promoting Accessibility

Physical Accessibility
Femme Con is dedicated to working in spaces that all Femmes and Allies can access and comfortably navigate regardless of ability, size, and physical attributes. As you move about the conference, we ask that conference participants be conscious of their surroundings and the needs of those around them. Be aware of where the accessible seating sections are, and keep them clear. At events with row seating, please, if able, move through aisles to the inner seats in order to leave the end aisle seats open. Please be sure to keep aisles, hallways, and doorways clear and be prepared to move yourself and, if able, furniture and objects that may be blocking someone’s way. When creating your own spaces in workshops or events (such as a circle of chairs or tables), be sure to leave space enough for those who may use mobility aids such as chairs, canes, etc.

ASL
We believe that providing ASL services at all plenary events as well as in requested workshops is crucial. To that end, we are doing our best to secure ASL interpretation for all of our keynotes, performances and requested workshops.

If you require ASL interpretation in workshops, please indicate that when you register or e-mail us by Saturday, July 16th (one month in advance of the conference) if possible. We will do our best to secure additional interpreters for workshops, but cannot guarantee assistance.  In that event, we will contact you to discuss alternate options.

If you are a licensed and certified ASL interpreter in the state of Maryland and are willing to volunteer your services at the conference, please let us know! Email us at access [at] femme2012.com or volunteer at http://www.femme2012.com/home/participate/volunteer/

Communication Support and Assistance

FemmeCon strives to provide assistance and resources for attendees seeking or requiring assistance in communication and/or participation in the conference including physical accommodations and interpreters. In order to promote communication accessibility, we ask that participants make space for interpreters and the people who may use them. Please do not stand in front or near an interpreter while they are working, as this may block them from view. When you are participating in events, do your best to speak clearly and audibly so that all may hear you and be willing to repeat yourself if asked. Do not have side conversations during speakers and workshops, as it may also influence a person’s ability to hear or focus their attention.

Gender Diversity

FemmeCon recognizes that Femmes come in many types of gender identities and expressions and we are dedicated to providing gender-focused safer spaces including restrooms, language and pronoun awareness, and related gender specific resources. We ask that participants be attentive to the gender presentation and expression of others, but to not assume someone’s gender identity based on their outward appearance or behavior. Since a person’s gender identity can not be identified by how they look or act, the best way to be sure of using the correct language is to politely ask. For example, instead of asking “Are you a woman or a man?” one may ask “What is your preferred pronoun?” Instead of asking “What do I call you?” one may ask, “What language would you like me to use when I refer to you?” If you are unable to ask, or feel it may not be a safe space to ask, it is best to refrain from using gendered language by using words like “that person” and all-gender pronouns such as “they.” By being attentive to gender diversity, we can create FemmeCon spaces that are comfortable for all gender identities and expressions.

Gender-Based Accessibility and Restrooms

FemmeCon strives to provide integral resources for anyone seeking gender non-specific OR gender specific spaces. FemmeCon has designated select restrooms within the conference space as gender neutral and we make every effort to make restrooms and related spaces outside the conference space as safe and accessible as possible. We ask that all FemmeCon participants practice friendly bathroom etiquette where all people are welcome, without question, in any restroom of their choice regardless of gender presentation or appearance. FemmeCon aims to promote the understanding that if a person is using a particular restroom or space, they have chosen it for the sole reason that is the correct (or closest to correct) one for them and therefore have a right to use it in safety and comfort. For more information about what spaces may or may not have gender accessibility, visit the registration table. You can find more information on gender neutral / genderfree / all-gender restrooms in the Baltimore Area at Safe2Pee.org.

Flashing Lights

Flashing lights may cause seizures in some participants. If you have a camera, phone, or other objects that have flashing lights, please refrain from using the flash in communal spaces. Always be sure to ask permission from those around you before using the device’s flash.

Childcare
Childcare is Available! Bring your kids! Femme Con is teaming up with Kidz City Baltimore to provide childcare and exciting children’s programming with a “Sea” theme! We believe that community support for parents/guardians/caretakers and children is crucial and hope to see you at the conference. For more information, please contact: radkidcare [at] gmail.com

Scent Aware Policy
Femme 2012: Pulling the Pieces Together strives to create an environment in which everyone experiences the conference as a comfortable and accessible space. In keeping with this goal, our stance is that the conference space be a scent-aware environment where conference participants are as entirely scent-free as possible. We ask that all FemmeCon participants review and abide by our Scent Policies in order to create a healthy space for everyone. For more information on our scent-aware policy and how to be scent-aware click here.

Dietary
To keep conference registration costs down, we do not include any meals in the conference registration. However we do make efforts to provide information about local restaurants within a specific distance of the conference. There are dozens of restaurants that can be found near the host hotel.

About The Accessibility and Awareness Committee:

The Accessibility and Awareness Committee is a group of volunteers charged with making Femme Con as open and inclusive as possible. Each conference, this committee does its best to create positive spaces for all Femmes through extensive networks of services, resources, and community support. If you have any questions or concerns about these policies and information, please contact our Accessibility and Awareness Chair, JAC Stringer at access@femme2012.com

 

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