We continue to work to make Harvest as accessible as possible to people with a range of dis/abilities. Read on for information on the various standard measures we take!
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, The Courier and Fiona (2009-2010) and **** (2011), 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 email@example.com if you have any specific questions or concerns!
Measures to assist people with mobility, pain and fatigue issues
Our venue for 2017 (and beyond) is a large hall equipped with a front door ramp, an access elevator, and fully accessible washrooms. All workshops and parties take place in the same venue, minimizing travel time. The lower-level breakaway workshop rooms are all wheelchair-accessible via the elevator. A small section of the hall and the outdoor balcony are up a short flight of stairs; as such, while these spaces are available for play and socializing, they are not spaces in which event programming will take place.
Priority seating signs will be posted on several chairs. Those chairs are located at the front of each workshop area and throughout the play party space. Our dungeon rules include a stipulation that they are not to be moved or used as toy caddies or for general seating.
The venue is located near OC Transpo bus routes 85 and 14 and is approximately 1 km from the O-Train’s Carling stop. OC Transpo’s Travel Planner can help you plan a route from your lodgings to the venue and back: http://www.octranspo.com/
Measures to assist people with impaired vision
We can make copies of our program available in large print. Please let us know when you register if you will need one! As well, a poster-sized schedule grid for each day is posted near the venue’s main entrance for easy reference.
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 the party venue.
The lighting in the party venue 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 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!
Our website has been designed with maximum contrast, and adheres to accessibility web standards to allow readers using custom style sheets, screen readers or talking browsers to easily access the site.
Measures to assist people who are Deaf or hard of hearing
We hire kink-friendly ASL interpreters for some of the weekend’s events. Unfortunately we can’t currently afford interpretation for the entire event, but we generally cover the opening and closing ceremonies and a selection of other events depending on what’s scheduled in a given year. ASL interpretation is our biggest accessibility expense so donations earmarked for interpretation are very welcome! Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific ASL-related inquiries.
We have a peer support system in place in which participants who have laptops and fast typing skills volunteer to take notes during workshops or other events so that people who are Deaf or hard of hearing can follow along with what a workshop presenter is saying. If peer typing support would help you get more out of attending An Unholy Harvest, or if you can help by providing note-taking assistance, please drop us a line at email@example.com 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!
Measures to assist people with 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 Q&A session for first-timers on Friday evening to help welcome folks who are new to Harvest, answer your questions and give you a chance to get to know one another through structured activities.
- A “Fresh Meet” event first thing on Saturday morning.
- 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 venue entrance throughout the play parties 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 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 a sold-out crowd, 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:
- Bootblacking products
- Rubbing alcohol for blood play
- Leather, rubber and latex 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, 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!
We provide only scent-free, water-based markers for our workshop presenters to use while teaching.
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. Also, skip using drier sheets when you do your laundry.
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.