traveling with a wheel chair need advice??
Posted by hrafinhyrr

does anyone have any tips or suggestions for folks traveling with a person who needs a wheel chair?   is it feasable to stay out of downtown and get decent parking at the icc and is there a parking lot that we need to ensure we get in to? also are there rules about carrying bags attached to the chair or anything?? any advice you can give is apprecaited.  we are planning on coming to gen con for the first time and we can drive if that helps get an idea of what we are dealing with.  also how does the convention handle folks in wheelchairs?? can i drop my husband off at the door and then park the van?? how accessible is the convention center to wheelchairs??  any advice you can give helps thanks.

Posted by truelink

I don't have personal experience with their handicap accessiblitiy, but I think I can help a little.

You are going to want to arrive very early to get a close parking spot. There are some very close parking garages that when I drove in a few years ago found that they filled up around 9:00 AM. Circle Center Mall's garage should be easy to get in and out of. There are a few other very close ones attached to hotels that sell parking. They have big signs, so you won't miss them.

The outside streets are well kept; I don't think they will be problematic navigating in a wheelchair. However, the skywalks leading to the mall and Marriott's parking garage have escalators either to get to them (Marriott) or in the middle of them (mall) that as far as I'm aware, are unavoidable.

Posted by maerada

There are elevators to avoid those escalatos.  You have to go into the parking garage and there is an elevator nearby.  The signage and placement in an intutive location of the elevators is not great but once you know they are there they are not that much out of the way.

Posted by a dark rider on a pale ... unicorn? hrafinhyrr

hrafinhyrr wrote:
does anyone have any tips or suggestions for folks traveling with a person who needs a wheel chair?   is it feasable to stay out of downtown and get decent parking at the icc and is there a parking lot that we need to ensure we get in to? also are there rules about carrying bags attached to the chair or anything?? any advice you can give is apprecaited.  we are planning on coming to gen con for the first time and we can drive if that helps get an idea of what we are dealing with.  also how does the convention handle folks in wheelchairs?? can i drop my husband off at the door and then park the van?? how accessible is the convention center to wheelchairs??  any advice you can give helps thanks.

How mobile is the person in the wheelchair?
A friend of mine uses a chair, but his experiences may not be useful if they're not able to move themselves, or do so quickly.

Here's a link to the ICC's Accessibility page - they mention a suitable place for drop-offs.
Here's a link to their floor plans - they mark where stairs/escalators/elevators are, but don't distinguish between them, which seems less useful than you'd hope.
There is a Google Streetview walkthrough of at least some of the ICC, which may help.

As maerada said, there are elevators, but they're not always obvious. From memory, to get to the Mall, you need to go out onto the street, down a block, then up in the Mall elevators.

If your budget stretches to it, there's the option of parking at the nearby hotels, to keep the vehicle close by, should that be an issue.

edit:  Found something about the Special Services kiosk on the Show Information page

Special Services
This kiosk is located on the end of the Customer Service kiosks. Disabled patrons may use this kiosk for their one stop shopping needs. Will Call pickup, badge and event ticket purchases and refunds or exchanges can all be made at this location. Customer Service will also have special wristbands to alert staff and event team members that the bearer may need additional assistance (i.e. limited waiting in line, etc.). A wristband is required in order to receive special assistance.

Posted by hrafinhyrr

He can stand some and walk some with a cane but not very long distances.  For example he can walk from the car to a seat at a resturaunt but that is about the limit.  When we go to the mall or a flea market we have to take the wheelchair and when we go to the store we use the motor cart.  He can probally at most stand for maybe 5 mins max with out assistance. How smooth are the sidewalks??  Will we have an issue with a push chair or should we borrow the scooter?

What about housing??  He absloutly can not do steps we have a one story house with a basement and he cant walk down the stairs. We just want to have an idea of what we are going to be encountering and be albe to plan accordingly.  also is there an issue with carrying labeled bottles of presciption medications with us at the ICC?? 

How much are we looking at for downtown parking if we do comute in??

Thanks so much for the advice so far its been really helpful.

Posted by truelink

Downtown parking is $20-$30 a day for the closest lots.

Posted by divachelle

Couple of hints for you:


  • Push chair will be fine, but a power scooter will give him much more autonomy, and free you up from pushing the chair.
  • Sidewalks in downtown aren't bad. The farthest we've been from the convention center was about 3.5 blocks, and the sidewalks/curbs were fine.
  • Regarding housing, you can contact the ADA housing line and see about getting a room or getting on a waitlist. (From http://www.gencon.com/attend/housing_travel : "Individuals needing ADA rooms are invited to call 317-688-1323 to make their reservations.")
  • I would not think carrying prescription meds in the correct bottles with proper ID would be a problem.
  • The convention center is fully accessible for wheelchairs.
  • No issues with attaching a bag to the chair. I'd just make sure it's a low-profile as possible, because the spaces at the con can get crowded.
  • If you have a handicapped parking permit, you should be able to find parking that is close.
  • Regarding the escalators, we ran into that trouble, too, but a very nice stranger helped us out and now we can go from the Embassy Suites to the con entirely inside of the tubes. We go through the edge of the mall near the food court, then into the Hyatt and through there to the convention center.

Posted by maerada

Special Services staff are extremely helpful. Just let them know what accommodations you need and they will try to help.  If you have any questions for them specifically you can email them before the convention.  You can have your compainians pick up their badges/tickets at the special services counter with you.  Special Services will be able to give you your swag but you companions will have to pick up their swag at the swag booth ( this was as of 2014 so information may be out of date).  

Posted by cossycat

I use a wheelchair and have attended all four days of Gen Con for the past three years.

Parking, is awful. Like someone else said all the garages normally fill up pretty quickly, however if you try even the full ones and tell them you have a placard they may have some of those spots available and let you in. Otherwise you will have to cruise for one. For the most part the con is pretty accessible- there is only one major complaint that sticks out in my head every year CARPET OH GOD WHY CARPET. I don't know if your husband pushes himself or not, but if you are self-propelling the carpet throughout the convention center becomes murder on the shoulders very quickly. If you travel to other locations such as Union Station and connecting hotels that's when you may begin to run into other problems such as ramps steep enough to require a running start and a spotter for even an experienced wheeler. And, of course, some of the sidewalks around Indy are not the nicest and can make for a rough ride. I'd say buckle in, but my super fancy custom chair doesn't have a seat belt, soooooooo..... 

Posted by bakermouse10133

http://www.downtownindy.org/images/get_around_skywalk_map.jpg
Here is a map of the skywalk system(hopefully this will help a bit), as cossycat said some of the ramps in the skywalk are steep. I know the Circle center mall parking is connected to the skywalk, you don't need to exit to the street to get into the mall , but the route is not well marked, if they have an attendant ask them. The Circle center parking will fill up quickly so get there early and keep in mind it does close at 2 am, it is not a 24 hour garage. Expect a 7-10 min walk to the con.

Another option that is closer but will only be open on Saturday and Sunday is the Goverment Garage on Maryland right across from the convention center. Its a short trip from the elevator to the enterance on the north west side of the con (where true dungeon was located last year) , again get there early. From this garage 2 min walk tops.  

http://www.downtownindy.org/get-around-downtown/park/

This is another helpful site to give you an idea of other options, you can click on each garage downtown and get info (rates are not accurate- especailly for gen con) but it will have phone # you can call to get more info.

EDIT: Oh another thing the White River state garage will not be open to the public, they close it for everyone except members.

Posted by brotherbock

I would recommend a flag attached to the wheelchair, for the sole reason that the exhibit hall gets very crowded, and many many many many many people do not stop to think of others as they rush around looking for whatever thingy they think they need. I'm fully mobile and 6'4", and people still crash into me without looking. I've seen people fall over folks in wheelchairs before. A flag up over the top of the chair will help let people not right next to him know that he's there. 

Also, shave his head and put X's on his wheels and people will fall over themselves asking for pictures with Prof Xavier. :) Some of the most memorable costumes I've seen over the years incorporated chairs and prosthetics. 

Posted by stevespikes hrafinhyrr

hrafinhyrr wrote:
does anyone have any tips or suggestions for folks traveling with a person who needs a wheel chair?   is it feasible to stay out of downtown and get decent parking at the ICC and is there a parking lot that we need to ensure we get in to? also are there rules about carrying bags attached to the chair or anything?? any advice you can give is appreciated.  we are planning on coming to gen con for the first time and we can drive if that helps get an idea of what we are dealing with.  also how does the convention handle folks in wheelchairs?? can i drop my husband off at the door and then park the van?? how accessible is the convention center to wheelchairs??  any advice you can give helps thanks.
I can totally speak from experience.  I use a manual wheelchair on a daily basis.  I have Cerebral Palsy.
I don't know what your husband is capable of doing, aside from what you posted.  So I will use my capabilities as examples, If that's alright.
To start off, I totally agree with Maerada and "It Can Be Fun To Run Away" with their assessments on the Special Service kiosks.  They are a life saver.  Since this is your first time attending Gen Con, establish a rapport with people manning the Special Services kiosk (They rarely change from year to year).
On to the sidewalks -- I find the closer to the convention center you are, the better condition; the sidewalks are.  And the farther from the ICC you go, the condition of the sidewalks change.  They are still passable (for the most part), but it might slow down your travels due to that they are not always level, and in need of repair. 
As far as housing -- I feel it is a must, if you want to have the complete "Gen Con Experience".  As I stated earlier, I use a wheelchair daily, and to continue that, I don't drive.  When Gen Con came to Indianapolis in 2003, I used to do the "commuter thing" -- commuting from home to the convention center, and at a per-arranged time, get picked up for the trip home.  I did this for the first few years.  Then I decided to reserve a room at one of the "connected" hotels.  That made my experience a whole much better, and enjoyable.  The Housing Bureau "hotline" is so much better that the "mad rush" that the masses have to go through.  The only downside is that the hotel rates go up every year.  What can you do, but save for the convention. :)
I hope you enjoy your first Gen Con.  You will find it overwhelming your first time.  I did.  Just take it in slowly.

Posted by microwench brotherbock

brotherbock wrote:
I would recommend a flag attached to the wheelchair, for the sole reason that the exhibit hall gets very crowded, and many many many many many people do not stop to think of others as they rush around looking for whatever thingy they think they need. I'm fully mobile and 6'4", and people still crash into me without looking. I've seen people fall over folks in wheelchairs before. A flag up over the top of the chair will help let people not right next to him know that he's there. 
Also, shave his head and put X's on his wheels and people will fall over themselves asking for pictures with Prof Xavier. :) Some of the most memorable costumes I've seen over the years incorporated chairs and prosthetics. 
I was going to suggest the same.  I am all of 4'11" tall and if I tried to count the number of times I've been walked over/into, i would lose count after 1 day.  A bike flag likely won't eliminate the problem completely, but can definitely be helpful.

Posted by cinnibar

I used a knee scooter and the mobile scooter options at Gen Con.  Both are satisfactory, but be aware the Exhibit Hall will be tight and crowded.  

I highly recommend the mobile scooter option, at low speeds.  Get a compact one if you can, there will be crowds, and rushing about.  if you are staying a local hotel, good, there are companies that will rent and drop off/pick up a scooter at the bell desk.  Very easy and no problems with the several I've rented...even has a basket if you ask for it.

There are elevators to get to the various floors, I never had a problem with this at the Downtown Marriott.  You can NOT cross the street with any disability device at street level safely around that hotel...the nearest disability entrance is further down the street near the registration booths.  The skywalk is easily done, though it requires use of the elevator.

They have opened up several of the big Halls making it easier to cut across the convention, but avoid the True Dungeon area and Union Station as there are very steep inclines in that area I wouldn't have wanted to try.

(Knee scooter worked fine, but I am a tall guy and easily seen...and it was tiring going through the Exhibit Hall and back to the connected hotel)

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