Hedva’s Disability Access Rider

Door Johanna Hedva, op Mon Aug 02 2021 22:00:00 GMT+0000

'Accessibility is just starting to take root in how institutions understand and work with disabled artists and communities. I’ve found that my access rider is often the first of its kind that they’ve seen.'

August 22, 2019

Over the last few years, I’ve received more and more invitations to speak and/or perform at arts and literary institutions (often internationally). In doing these events, I’ve learned a lot about my own capacity and how working with institutions tends to go. So that we can work together better, now, when I am invited somewhere, the first thing I do in response is send my Disability Access Rider.

Accessibility is just starting to take root in how institutions understand and work with disabled artists and communities. They’ve often never heard of ‘access intimacy’ before, or if they have, they don’t know what it means in actual practice. I’ve found that my access rider is often the first of its kind that they’ve seen.

I decided to make my access rider public because many people have asked to see it, and I’ve heard from a range of folks – from other crip artists to abled curators who want to work with us – that this document has been a useful model for them.

I welcome anyone who wants to use this as a template for your own rider, or to share it with institutions who invite you to do stuff. And I invite anyone working within the institution to use it too. Please copy/paste and circulate!

Hedva’s Disability Access Rider

Thank you for inviting me to contribute to your event! I am disabled, so for me to be able to participate, I need support from my hosts. I also require the events I’m part of to be accessible to the disabled community.

This means that we’re going to have to embark on access intimacy together, where accessibility creates new perspectives and reconfigures how we presume intimacy with each other, from a personal level to a structural one. Jordan Lord defines access as ‘a continual process of learning what it takes for us to get together.’ Access is not a perfect condition that we will achieve, but instead a conversation about the ways in which we are already interdependent, and the ways in which those entanglements might be made more supportive. Before I can commit to that process with you – because honey, it is a process! – please take a moment to read the below, and let me know how you can support each item. If you need more specifics about any component, ask me. I’m happy to clarify and assist where I can. If you cannot provide something on this list, let’s have a conversation about it. I am more interested in accessibility as something for which we work together, rather than a punitive standard I measure you against.

Below my requirements is a list of references that give more insight to where I’m coming from.

0. Money

Access should not be funded solely by me, the disabled individual (e.g., taken out of my fee or production/materials/travel budget), but shared with the institution, and/or city, state, and/or federal funding. The fact that it is often funded by me, in more ways than just financial, signals how inaccessible the world is. Please join me in carrying this weight.

1. For scheduling

I require all of the below to be confirmed and agreed upon by contract at least three weeks before the event takes place. Trust me, the more time there is to work out all the logistics, the better. Accessibility takes a really long time and it’s messy af!

(For the commission of new work, or an event that requires a more long-term relationship, we’ll need to have a conversation about time.)

I require at least 48 hours after arriving to acclimate before I can participate in any public events. I’ll need to fly home the day after the event.

2. For the entirety of the trip

I require a care person to assist me. I cannot travel alone. I prefer to bring a care person with me, because we will already have a relationship and they will know what is needed. Their travel, lodging, food, and transportation must be paid for by the host, as mine are.

3. For air travel

The flight cannot depart before 15:00. The airport cannot be more than one hour away from my house. Nonstop is preferred. If a layover must happen, it cannot be longer than two hours. I need to be picked up from, and taken to, the airport. I must have an aisle seat on the flight, because I use a cane. This has to be booked in advance. On transatlantic flights, I require an economy seat with extra leg room, premium economy or business class. Depending on my health, sometimes I require wheelchair assistance at the airport. Please check with me about this before booking flights.

4. For lodging

I require my own room, bed, and private bathroom in a non-smoking room that has a window. I prefer hotels to air bnbs. The lodging has to be a reasonable distance from where the event will take place. I require an elevator if there are more than two flights of stairs. I require meals to be paid for by my host. My food allergies/intolerances are: no nuts, seeds, shellfish, cephalopods.

5. For the event itself

I cannot participate in anything before 16:00. I, and my audience, cannot sit for longer than 90 minutes without a 15-minute break. I require a dressing room/backstage area, and would not be bothered if fresh flowers appeared there. On the stage, I require a cushioned chair with a back for the entire event; I cannot stand.

6. For the accessibility of the event

I require that the event take place in a wheelchair accessible space, no exceptions. I require every effort be made to provide both CART and sign language interpretation for the event; at least one of these has to happen. I require all-gender restrooms at the space. I require spaces to be as scent-free as possible (see reference below for more info). If someone makes an access request, I require that the hosts make every effort to provide it.

If you can’t provide what’s been requested, tell me with enough time before the event so that we can find a solution.

7. For the publicity of the event

I require that the accessibility information of the event be posted with all materials that include my name. This includes information about parking, elevators, wheelchair and all-gender accessible restrooms, CART and ASL interpretation during the event. Best practice is to be transparent and as detailed as possible about how the space is, and is not, accessible.

For example, if there is one step, anywhere in the space, say so and where it is, and if there are any additional routes. For example, if only CART is being provided and not ASL, say so. For example, if the parking is a five-minute walk, or a fifteen-minute walk, from the space, say so. For example, if the space must be kept at a noticeably cold temperature, as it is in most archives, say so (in this case, I’ve seen an institution provide blankets: a good idea!).

A contact email and/or phone number must be posted with all materials that include my name, in order for people to request specific access items.

8. For the documentation of the event

I require open/closed captioning of all video documentation. I require textual image descriptions (alt text) for all photos posted online. I reserve the right to approve all final language published that includes my name. NOTE: I use they/them/their pronouns.

9. In case

Because I have chronic illnesses, I may have to cancel the trip at the last moment if I have a flare. This doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. If there’s a way that I am able to participate remotely, I will.

10. For the future

It would be so cool, and you’d make me and my friends and many others very happy, and you’d increase the attendance of your events by a lot, and you’d become a working part of building the kind of world that needs to be built, if you would follow this document not just for me, but for all your work in the future.