Accessibility at OKFestival 2014

Equality and inclusivity of all people, in all our varieties, are core values for OKFestival. We think that openness is not only about open knowledge and data, but also about opening possibilities and opportunities for everyone. Opening up our societies also means making activities and communities accessible to all people.

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We know that there’s no “standard participant” at OKFestival – we all vary in our cognitive, emotional, and physical skills; we differ in age and experience. When building the event, we focussed on accessibility in two forms: attitude and infrastructure.

i) Attitude
We gain strength from diversity, and we actively seek participation from those who enhance it. That’s why we crafted the OKFestival User Guide, our code of collaboration. The User Guide exists to ensure that diverse groups collaborate to mutual advantage and enjoyment. We will challenge any prejudice that could jeopardise the participation of any person in the festival. We aim to welcome to everybody to an event that celebrates our infinite diversity, so that we can all just relax and contribute.

ii) Infrastructure
Participants are the true experts on what they need. It follows that the more information we provide, the better equipped they are to judge whether the event will work for them. OKFestival want to be honest about the access we can’t provide, even if this requires admitting that we can’t offer all the options we would have liked, in order to save our participant from having expectations we can’t meet.

What we WILL be able to provide at OKFestival 2014:

  • Screen reader accessible material: all printed materials will be available in electronic form. This makes them accessible for people who use screen reader technology (used by some sight impaired people).
  • Reserved row of seats: in the rooms hosting the keynote sessions we’ll mark off some chairs in the front of the room for hard of hearing and deaf. These chairs will be front and centre for lip readers.
  • Wheelchair accessible restrooms: the venue has two wheelchair accessible restrooms, both are clearly labelled in the venue map.
  • Gender neutral restroom: a more welcoming restroom option for transgendered people and others with non-traditional gender identities, nursing mothers looking for a private space to breastfeed or use a pump, parents of different sex children or different sex caretakers of the elderly or disabled needing a space in which they can comfortably be together and those with conditions needing more privacy than a traditional restroom can provide.
  • Food: food options at the festival will cater for both meat and vegan lovers and the catering staff will be happy to provide informations essentials to those with food allergies and sensitivities.
  • Privacy: our attendees list on the site only includes participants who allowed their name to be published; name badges are left blank so that participants can choose what to write on it and how to best identify themselves. We also provide no camera zones – spaces designated free from both photography and videography, clearly marked on the event map.

What we WON’T be able to provide (but will aim to provide in the future):

  • CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) is real time captioning for talks and can be displayed on overhead screens, for online audiences, and on videos of events. Captioning allows people to read along. It can also benefit people with attention disorders and people who have difficulties with English.
  • Audio translation and transcription in languages other than English to to make sessions more accessible and barrier-free (we’re big fans of Chaos Communication Congress’ Subtitles project)
  • Full wheelchair accessibility to all venue areas: we have tried to ensure that as many areas as possible within the Festival venue are accessible and wheelchair friendly, but unfortunately a few spaces – M1, P1, K3 – can only be accessed via stairs. We have tried to limit the activities taking place in these areas and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.
  • Childcare: we believe that supporting parents with small children attending events is a great step forward towards inclusivity. However, we couldn’t provide this service this year. But children are very much welcome and if participants feel comfortable/ find suitable to have their kid(s) with them at the event, please notice that:
    – parents with infants and older children are welcome to bring them
    – children under 12 don’t need a ticket as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a ticket. If your children are over 12 and under 18 you’ll need to purchase student tickets for them

We hope you’re looking forward to enjoying the festival together as much as we are, and that this information will aid you in having a fun and comfortable festival experience. See you in the crowd!

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