November 2017
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plans for being a more inclusive speaker/leader at group events


icon: "incitement (painting of a bald purple-skinned naked person standing among thick vines and ferns: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

I recently went to an event that was really inaccessible, but didn't have to be. Through my frustration at not being able to do anything about it, I've realized that as a presenter at conferences or leader of events, I can make this better. At the very beginning I will say something like:

"Before I get started I want to make a request. If at any point there is something I can do to make this more accessible for you -- like if you need me to face you when speaking, or to repeat or explain something, or to wait a minute so you can make a note or handle a potential trigger -- please interrupt me with a signal like raising your hand or saying 'pause.' It is important to me that I not accidentally exclude people, so if you're up to it, please point out any way I can be more inclusive. Also, if I use any language that hurts you or if I say something that reinforces oppression in some way, please let me know if you can."

If this or something like it had been said at the beginning of the event I went to, I would have interrupted to say that I couldn't make out what people were saying and would have asked that they make room for me at the front so I could hear more and watch faces to help me parse what people were saying. My experience would have been completely different. But without being invited to interrupt, I know that even though they may very well have accommodated me, many people would have had a negative and even angry reaction to me asking for that and thus implying that they were inconsiderate and that my needs were more important than maintaining the flow of their event.

I'll of course continue self-educating and hope to be able to predict most access needs and be ready, but I know I can't predict everything, so it's important that people feel welcomed to tell me in the moment.

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Comments
wantedonvoyage ══╣╠══
Agreed... it's impossible to predict what everybody at an event will need (especially if it's a group of strangers, but even people who know each other may bring unique circumstances on a particular occasion) and there are going to be times when you miss something, but the idea of stating this intention and willingness to learn up front would definitely make a big difference by making it safe and "normal" to ask for help from the presenter or the group.

I like sessions where they start out with introductions (even though I know this is fraught for some folks too) with the opportunity to state what you hope to get from it as well as to make requests like these to make sure you are able to fully participate and be included.
belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
yes, exactly, I want to normalize talking about access needs!

yes, introductions would be an excellent way to do that. I could ask people to share their name, their pronouns, and any access needs that the rest of us could be helpful with. Hm.
wantedonvoyage ══╣╠══
Another idea for that list list, especially if you have an established group where you either a.) get into potentially fraught topics, b.) have strong introverts or highly sensitive personalities, or both, is to ask people for their "crayon color" or something similar, where green is "I'm in a strong, confident place, ask away!", yellow is "it's been a long day and/or something happened so I may not be on my best game, and red is "I barely got myself here, I may be easily upset today" or any similar protocol the group agrees to.

We used this for a while after one group member missed the body language another was giving off and it turned into a brawl (they both eventually left the group) but it turned out to be more than we needed.
belenen ══╣artless╠══
that is an excellent plan, and I think I may incorporate that into intimacy practice! It'd be good to take the temperature at the beginning, I feel.
sammason ══╣╠══
Interesting. You'd be welcome to post something like this toe friendly_crips.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
thanks, I'd like to do that!
ragnarok_08 ══╣Original ★ impending dusk╠══
I definitely agree with you there.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
cool ;-)
fairytaleguise ══╣╠══
I think this is a wonderful, and considerate, idea.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
I was very happy to think of it, I hope it works!
slipjig ══╣╠══
That's beautifully worded, and I think it'd go a long way to help create safe space. Here's hoping for a world where that safe space is the norm, and no longer something we have to fight for.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
We can make our own spaces safe, and hopefully others will follow suit!
raidingparty ══╣╠══
Thanks for the ideas!
Tapping to incorporate.
The one concern I would have is if disruptive people decide to use the invitation to "game the system", but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. So far, I think it would be safe to assume earnestness.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
Re: Thanks for the ideas!
I think there is still heavy enough pressure to be polite that gaming the system would require a truly terrible person, who I could kick out for a number of negative things at that point, I'd guess. Even if not, better to have the system err on the side of being 'too' accessible, in my opinion!
raidingparty ══╣╠══
Re: Thanks for the ideas!
Definitely worth trying, at least.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.