Every convention seems to have issues on getting organized as far as disability badges go (except pax east), but gencon was by far the worst. The organization was lacking, the treatment was horrible, the answers I would receive were unacceptable.
This was my first time at gencon and I have never been to a convention that made you feel so bad for having a disability!
The first day we had to ask 10 different people and spent over half an hour trying to find someone who knew anything about where we could go for disability entrance. I even had to explain my condition to almost every person I spoke to so they could understand why there was an issue. I have ataxia, which means my central nervous system is messed up which causes me to have terrible balance and coordination and I get very tired when walking among crowds so I need to rest often. I cannot stand in long lines and getting in with the "black friday" stampede in the morning is the absolute worst thing for me as one of the biggest issues is keeping my balance when people are running around me pushing to get by. On the first day they let us in an hour early and that was the only day I was able to walk freely without worry I would get trample. Thge exhibitors had no instructions on handling disability badges (at pax they do not make you wait in long lines and have seats for you at every booth). At gencon, even to purchase would be a line of 30 minutes to a few hours so I had to avoid most of that. After the first day when I was complaining about how disorganized everything is, someone in charge even told me that I should get in to the hall about an hour after it opens every day, when the initial rush has died down..so basically I am told that due to my disability, I should not enjoy the convention and go to all the booths after they have sold out from all the exclusives they were selling which were usually gone in the first hour. Even the events that had entrances were disorganized and you would think that is the easy part. I would often have to speak to someone at the door who would have to go and find out and come back to let me know and events that had lottery tickets were never handed to me if I got in with the disability bracelet. I spoke to over 20 people during the convention and everyone had to speak with someone else and get back to me and not once did I get a satisfactory response. Even when I would get in the morning with the other people that had a disability bracelet, I would beg to have at least a 5 minute head start to avoid the stampede and the first day they let people in a wheelchair in and made me go in through a different door and by the time I got there, they opened the door for the stampede...and the other days, where it was supposed to be 2 minutes (really...2 minutes..in 2 minutes im barely halfway through the hall and as soon as the door opens, the people who are told every day not to run, have run past me), and then the door would open 30 seconds later for the stampede. Even on the last day when I mentioned this, I was told that was a mistake and then that day, it happened again. Basically the whole convention attitude was that people with disabilities should not be able to enjoy the con like others, they should learn to work around the issues and have less fun (and a lot of frustration in the process).
And I was there at 8 am every morning trying to find someone who knew anything about disability bracelets!
Please be more organized next time and have something arranged with the exhibitors too (like every good convention doors).
Suggest you address this to [email protected]
Maybe some changes can be made...
I'm sorry that you had a bad experience.
Not that it helps you for this year, but at the left end of the customer service area there's a special services booth that distributes the wristbands that signify congoers with a disability.
That said, you may want to look into renting a mobility scooter for use during the con. Doing so may help accomplish a couple of things:
1. It makes you and the fact that you have a disability a bit more visible so that others can be more aware and cautious.
2. It assists with allowing you to always have a place to sit.
3. It helps with mitigating your fatigue and stress by allowing your body to rest rather than overexert with all of the walking and standing.
Sorry you had a hard time. Like Alans said, maybe you can register a complaint at the address given.
Also, include some paragraph breaks. Big walls of text are hard to read.
I also highly recommend rollators, if you do prefer walking... You can get really nice ones for less than $200, if you hunt around. (Amazon has some for less than $100). I used one this year and it really helped - I could sit when I wanted and had support when I was walking. Win-win. Also, as divachelle mentioned - it let people know that I wasn't fast, that I might need a little extra help (opening doors, etc).
Also, since I had my own seat, I could find places on the outskirts of the convention center to get some quiet for a few minutes. :)
Otherwise, I do recommend mobility scooters! I used every year in Indy except this last year and the first year... totally made the difference on my enjoyment level.
Also, while I appreciate all your recommendations, the biggest issue was that gencon staff had no idea how to deal with disabilities. The special services kiosk that was recommended, is where I got the bracelet and went 20 times trying to find anyone who knew anything.
Also, walkers and scooters might help but as long as I can walk without them, I dont want to use them. Call it a pride thing, or being stubborn, but using those feels like I have given in to my ataxia and it has won. However the dirty looks I get when people have no idea of the disability since its not something you can see, would be reduced, but then I feel those would be replaced with Pitty looks, and I prefer the dirty ones.
I also didnt like having to explain to several gencon staff about my disability so they can understand why help was needed. Ataxia is one of those diseases where it has been easier for me to cope with when I dont have to think about it, and talking and explaining it to everyone, makes me think about it.
Ive emailed the customer service email and I just hope that next year they are better prepared. I am hoping that I am not in a wheelchair by then, which while would make it easier to deal with things at gencon, would not make muy life easier.
Thank you all for the recommendations, but the feedback is so gencon can be more prepared. I dont like to think about my ataxia and dont like to make up for it with walkers and canes and scooters (or eventually a wheelchair, which the little they know about ataxia indicates that eventually this will be the case). Having a disability already adds a ton of things you have to do to cope with life. I used to play semi pro basketball in Greece, now I can barely dribble. I used to run around 4 5ks a year..now i cant run on a treadmill without holding on which is exhausting. I have a hard time going down stairs without holding on railings and ive developed a fear of heights only because im afraid ill lose my balance in high areas...I dont want to have to learn how to cope with conventions because all they do is give a disabled bracelet and then have no information on how to deal with the disabled.
Best wishes for a workable resolution to your issues.
Most of the people that you see working Gen Con are actually just volunteers; so I can understand why they may not have the answers right there for you, and would have to go ask. I agree that Gen Con could do a better job on informing them how to handle these situations better. Hopefully this does not discourage you from returning next year.
I can promise you, I didn't get any pity looks. It's all in your attitude, I think, of which I have plenty!
Still, I hope things can be handled better for you next year and that more of the volunteers - and the vendors in the DH - are aware of how to deal with Disabled Badge Holders to make the convention easier on you. :)
I guess I'm confused as to what the OP actually wants. The ADA provides that accommodations be made for people to give them equal access to the experience and/or goods in a commercial setting. The wristbands generally mean that at most of the booths I've ever been to at Gen Con, you don't wait in the super long line. (I've literally witnessed a friend of mine with a disability bracelet (and service animal) go right to the front of the line at the Upper Deck booth without waiting. I can't tell you how convenient that is for him, and you can imagine it gets more than a fair share of grumblings from all the regular people having to wait in hour (or more) in a line for what he was able to do in 30 seconds.
The person giving you advice about waiting an hour to go in was only trying to be helpful by letting you know that the crowds do thin a bit after the initial rush, and you would find it easier to move around the convention. They were in no way telling you not to go in if you wanted to.
Also, as other have pointed out, there are other accommodations there for your benefit that you have consciously chosen not to use out of your own sense of pride. I guess it gets harder and harder for me to have understanding of your complaint when you state that you are aware of accommodations you choose not to use. I've never been to a con where every booth had to have a chair for use by disabled patrons, though a good chunk of the booths do have chairs for when games are being played. I've never been to Pax East, I'd like to see sometime how that is handled.
As for not finding many knowledgeable people, and being tired of explaining your needs, well as others have stated, most of the people you are talking to are volunteers, and I have to admit, I'm a high school science teacher and I hadn't heard the term "ataxia" as a form of disability before. I researched it, but volunteers don't have time to do that in their setting, so you are likely to run across this problem in the future.
I will let you know that I used to work at Disney World, and there were many times when I saw the looks on people's faces when 10 people got to use the FastPass line because one kid had a broken foot. (This was before Disney adjusted how they handle such parties) It got to the point where families were paying disabled people to take them to the parks essentially to use them as a bypass to all the ride lines. So in today's world, people are skeptical sometimes about someone who doesn't visibly have a disability in some way asking for what someone would say is special treatment. Not to mention it is loud in those halls.
I am in no way saying that to imply you are taking advantage of your disability. The point was more to illustrate that in a situation where people are always jockeying for better position, (sadly) it is ok for people to be a little skeptical at first, as long as they do right by you once they learn the truth. (Meaning the volunteer staff) I always treated every guest in front of me with respect at WDW, no matter what got them to the end of the line. But I had a hell of a lot more training than your average GenCon volunteer.
One piece of advice that may be helpful: A quick reference card. A little card that can be given to people that quickly explain your disability and what you are seeking may be much more helpful in the loud convention center than trying to talk to someone who can barely hear you. The ones Disney had were a cardstock card about the size of a 5 x 7 index card. Discreet enough that you don't have to carry it in your hand, but could put it in your pocket and brought out when needed.
On a personal note, I'm not a big fan of people getting let in early because of disabilities because it just leads to exploitation, and because that is special treatment, not reasonable accommodation. That your complaint seems to be more about desiring special treatment and less about reasonable accommodation is why I look upon it with misunderstanding.
If what you desire is a convention where there aren't thousands of people, then you don't really desire a convention.
Just to correct one minor thing, effective this year, all Gen Con Event Team members are employees and not volunteers. But, as contract workers, I don't think you'll find them any more knowledgeable than years past when they were volunteers.
I guess no one taught you, if you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all. Go post elsewhere!
Having to deal with Ataxia is bad enough.. Having to deal with these kind of posts.. Is not helping!
An incident that happened while i was volunteering at Origins and the best and only safe word i can use without going into private detail was belligerant. The person involved reached a point where i was more than glad i had a radio to my boss to actually deal with the person. I'm a fairly savvy individual but please know the ADA before quoting it to someone who can't help you or throw a fit when one says wait a minute for a supervisor/hall captain/coordinator.
Well thought out and helpful insight, jbship628. Thanks for sharing.
I guess people did think it was helpful and realise It was condescending.. Either that.. Or a few friends just posted pretending It was a good response.. Because the intent is clear. There wasnt any fit thrown and there is no need for anyone to be certified or have knowledge about anything Ada. All I was asking is that the con had given ANY form of instruction to the people involved. Not for EVERY single person to have to ask someone what the situation was for Ada.
The fact that this response was posted after I complained about the previous condensing post, makes me think that the poster had some friends "back him up".
I have been to many cons. All the volunteers need to know is some form of instruction of what to do... Even the people handing out the bracelets barely knew anything about them. Not having to constantly call a supervisor to ask.
I'm done.. This Forum isn't for help.. It's just for trolls to be trolls!
As an AWD adviser for my company I was going to reply with with many of the same suggestions already offered. Although with the OPs last post the intent is pretty clear.
In any case GenCon should have one person who is certified and able to be contacted for questions concerning disability matters on staff (it is likely they already do).
As I'm from Canada, I'm not certain exactly what the guidelines are for medical issues like this but I didn't think that the organization (in this case the convention staff) were actually even allowed to ask what disability a person has. IF, and that's a pretty big if, the organization is allowed to ask what disability the person has, then it should only need to be once - to determine if, in fact, the person is disabled according the definitions of the ADA. Obviously, this assessment would need to be completed by someone trained in the use and application of the ADA. Once it's verified, there should be absolutely NO need for the person with the disability to explain over and over again what is wrong. All that should happen from that point when there's any request for assistance is staff to recognize the wrist band and say "How can we help you?"
I see a lot of people here jumping to defend Gen Con like it's some rag-tag band of misfits that have come together to celebrate a hobby we all share. It may have started out that way; it is no longer the case. Gen Con is a multi-million dollar event that pumps millions and millions of dollars into the Indianapolis economy. Every single one of us that paid money to get through those doors is a customer of Gen Con's; and not a single one of us deserve to be treated inferior to any other.
As awesome and fantastic as Gen Con is, the organizers really need to improve the Customer Service aspect of their organization. Personally, I wouldn't blame OP for reaching out to the ADA and seeing what they can do to help Gen Con become educated about the rights of the disabled.
Again, I'm very sorry for the confusion. Next time there is an issue please go to the Special Services or Customer Service kiosk onsite (They are in the same place). They can get you a bracelet and clarify any policies. You can email us as well before the convention [email protected]
Customer Service & Event Team Manager
Gen Con LLC
I'm going to be honest.
I am somewhat disheartened at the response here.
I have worked for a lot of other conventions, some of the same size or Larger (mainly DCC), and every volenteer is trained on minimal ADA practices.
its part of the orientation.
Even people who's department has nothing to do with it, are trained where the ADA booths and lines will be.
They are given the list of questions that should or shouldn't be asked.
So it should not be impossible for GenCon to do this.
I came to this Forum today because I woke up today and immediatelu realized I will need to pack my Knee Brace and Tens machine, because I am already in pain (and I haven't even left for the convention yet).
But if what is described above is what people are to expect at this convention, I am now pretty worried.