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Accessibility

 

We continue to work to make Harvest as accessible as possible to people with a range of dis/abilities, within the limits of the kink-friendly spaces available in Ottawa. Read on for information on the various measures we’re taking!

Commitment from the organizers

Measures to assist people with mobility, pain and fatigue issues

Measures to assist people with impaired vision

Measures to assist people who are Deaf or hard of hearing

Measures to assist people with social anxiety and other mental health issues

Measures to assist people with sensitivities to fragrances and chemicals

 


Commitment from the organizers

We’re committed to making An Unholy Harvest as accessible as possible for  people in various situations—people who make a low income, people with dis/abilities, Deaf and hard of hearing people, and more. Here’s what we’re doing.

Thanks to the committed work of the entire Harvest team, and in particular the efforts of our fabulous accessibility volunteers, Ren and Fiona, we’ve adopted a range of dis/ability accessibility measures, which are outlined in the sub-sections below.

We make a point of including accessibility information on this website, posting it to our attendee mailing list and to other mailing lists across Canada where we advertise the event, and announcing it during our Friday night opening words at the event.

Our dungeon rules include rules specifically aiming to address the needs of people with dis/abilities.

We encourage our PICs (People In Charge) and our workshop presenters to familiarize themselves with these accessibility efforts and to do their part to encourage them—for example, by making sure our dis/ability seating is not used for holding toys during the play parties, and by taking measures to make workshops easier to access for people with low vision or who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Our registration form includes a section about accessibility measures to ensure that everyone who registers has a chance to let us know if they have specific needs. We also include a question about accessibility on our feedback forms, which are available throughout the weekend for people to fill out so we can get your suggestions for future editions of the event.

We’ll be updating this section on an ongoing basis as we come up with new plans, so check back often or write us a note at unholyharvest@yahoo.ca if you have any specific questions or concerns!

 


Measures to assist people with mobility, pain and fatigue issues

Our main space, Breathless, is not wheelchair-accessible; the entrance is up a wide flight of 25-30 stairs with a bannister, and the bathrooms are not sized to accommodate a wheelchair. However, once inside, the space is large and open and has no raised areas or steps.

We have equipped the Breathless coatroom with cubbyhole storage units and we ask that participants make use of them, along with the coat racks, instead of strewing their belongings on the floor. This will ensure clear access to the space and minimize the potential for tripping and injury. In a similar vein, we ask that participants keep their belongings off the floor in other high-traffic areas in the space.

Our satellite workshop space is the Pink Triangle Services (PTS) office, located just around the corner from Breathless. Two-thirds of our daytime workshops on Saturday and Sunday are generally held in that satellite space. The building that houses PTS is fully wheelchair-accessible, with a short ramp into the front door, elevators in the lobby, and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.

We have created priority seating signs for five chairs within the main space. Those chairs are located throughout the space during both workshops and play parties, and our dungeon rules include a stipulation that they are not to be moved or used as toy caddies or for general seating.

 


Measures to assist people with impaired vision

We will be making a few copies of our program available in large print on site. Please let us know when you register if you will need one!

Our dungeon rules will be printed up in French and English in large-print poster-size format and posted in a visible area in the dungeon. The weekend’s schedule will also be posted in a large-print poster-sized format at Breathless.

The lighting at Breathless is generally sufficient for good visibility, but we have purchased portable lighting for your use if you need extra lighting for your play. Please ask one of the Breathless staff members, an organizer or a PIC if you would like to use one. Our workshops are all held during daylight hours in fully lit spaces.

Our presenters are all aware that people who are vision-impaired, Deaf or hard of hearing are to be given priority on seating near the front of the room during workshops. Please don’t hesitate to request extra seating if the front-row seats are already filled when you arrive!

For 2011, we plan to revamp our website to make it easier to read for people with low vision.

 


Measures to assist people who are Deaf or hard of hearing

Our efforts to hire kink-friendly ASL interpreters for the weekend have unfortunately not panned out for 2010. We may, however, be able to provide volunteers with laptops and fast typing skills so that people who are Deaf or hard of hearing can follow along with what a workshop presenter is saying. If you need this service in order to attend An Unholy Harvest, please drop us a line at unholyharvest@yahoo.ca so we can make arrangements.

We encourage our presenters to provide large-type written handouts for their workshops, as well as to take additional measures to ensure that their presentations are as accessible as possible for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. Our presenters are all aware that people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or vision-impaired are to be given priority on seating near the front of the room. Please don’t hesitate to request extra seating if the front-row seats are already filled when you arrive!

Unfortunately, our Saturday-night film is not close-captioned. (Mind you, it is porn, so there’s not a ton of dialogue…)

 


Measures to assist people with social anxiety and other mental health issues

By its very nature as a BDSM and kink event, An Unholy Harvest is not an emotionally safe space. It’s a high-stimulation, emotionally intense event where lots of potentially triggering stuff may take place, whether it’s an encounter with another attendee, BDSM scenes you may take part in, or a scene, film, interaction, erotica reading, or workshop that you experience. If you have significant concerns about functioning happily in this kind of environment, you may want to limit your participation, read the event and workshop descriptions carefully before you choose to take part, or choose not to attend.

That being said, we work hard to create a culture at Harvest that’s about warmth, kindness, helpfulness and a general ethics of community-building, supportiveness and care—and our attendees report that this culture is one of the key elements of Harvest that keeps them coming back year after year!

In addition, we take numerous measures to help people feel at ease at An Unholy Harvest. Those include:

  • No dress code and no expectations about how you will look.
  • A “Fresh Meet” workshop first thing on Saturday morning with plenty of get-to-know-you games to help get you started, along with tips on how to meet and cruise people and just generally have a good time over the weekend.
  • Name tags for everyone to wear on Friday evening and Saturday morning, so you’ll have an easier time remembering the names of the people you’ve met.
  • Plenty of workshops geared toward new players.
  • Registration table staffers who are hand-picked for their welcoming dispositions.
  • A fabulous team of PICs (People In Charge) who are there to help you out if you’ve got questions or concerns; look for their faces on the PIC poster, say hi when we introduce them during our Friday-night opening words, and feel free to ask for help anytime throughout the weekend. 
  • A greeter / security person stationed at the entrance to the main venue from 8:30 to 11 p.m. each night. They’re there to be friendly!
  • An aftercare/social area with comfy couches and snacks set up during the play parties. This area is a play-free zone, although it is not visually separated from the rest of the dungeon space, so you may still see and hear others playing.
  • A visually separated chill zone. This is a small area, big enough for 2-3 people max, where people can relax and decompress during workshops. This space is not intended to be private play space; it’s specifically reserved for people who need to isolate themselves temporarily to chill out. Still, remember that Harvest draws about 100 people, so the chill zone may be used frequently; we can’t guarantee it will be available at the specific time you may need it.

 


Measures to assist people with sensitivities to fragrances and chemicals

While we want to be as scent-free as possible, within the context of a leather event (with the smell of leather among other things), a fully scent-free environment is impossible to create without compromising the nature of the event itself. So, here’s a list of what you can expect to be exposed to:

  • Carpeting in the main venue and in the satellite venues
  • Bootblacking products
  • Rubbing alcohol for blood play
  • Leather clothing
  • Traces of chemical cleaning supplies (we only use our venues for three days of the year, and so cannot assure that spaces are only ever cleaned with scent-free cleaners)
  • Individuals’ personal fragrances (minimal)

Recognizing that we cannot make this a scent-free event then, we do aim to reduce the scents in the air by asking attendees to be “scent-aware.” We encourage attendees to be aware of how using certain products (perfumes, oils, hair products, etc.) can diminish someone else’s ability to enjoy the workshops and play parties that they attend. As such, we ask that you be as close to scent-free as is possible for you. Read on for more information on how to do that. And if you are sensitive to scents, please let us know if you have any specific concerns that we may be able to incorporate into this approach!

Some tips on being scent-aware

Don’t wear perfumes, essential oils, colognes, hair products and so forth (you’re just going to get sweaty anyway!). However, we do recognize that these products can be a part of one’s gender identity, ethnic identity or spiritual practice, so do consider what’s comfortable for you.

Use products that are scent or fragrance-free. While not all fragrance-free products are chemical-free (and therefore can still affect those around you who are scent-sensitive), it is still a good rule of thumb to follow when trying to be scent-aware. We do recognize that this might not an option for some, as these products might not be financially feasible or may be difficult to find depending on where you live. But, if it’s an option for you, some scented products you might substitute for scent-free versions include: hair products, soaps and shower gels, laundry detergents and fabric softeners, lotions and moisturizers, and deodorants.

In spite of asking folks to be as scent-free as is possible for them, one technique that doesn't work is just using less of something. When you wear “just a little,” folks with scent-sensitivities don’t know where the fragrance that’s making them ill is coming from and may be forced to leave the space entirely. The best course of action is not to wear any scents (perfumes, oils, etc.).

Be understanding if someone asks you to move, or if, after you enter a space, they simply get up and move. Don't assume that they have a problem with you; it might be the fragrance on your person.

For more info on being scent-free, visit: http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html

 

 

Breathless Ottawa

Venus Envy

Pink Triangle Services