Support Services at the Conference | PTWC19
The Pennsylvania Convention Center is wheelchair-accessible and the entire Conference operates on the first floor. There is an “Accessibility Lane” that runs down the center of most hallways of PTWC. This lane was created to ensure that folks using mobility aids can navigate the Conference freely. Attendees are asked to be mindful of where they are standing and walking to avoid congestion and to make it easier for folks that need space for wheelchairs, canes, walkers, scooters, and other equipment.
There are a limited number of wheelchairs available to borrow from the Convention Center during the Conference. In order to sign one out, you will need to leave your ID with the person at the desk. This is a policy of the Convention Center, and unfortunately we are not able to override it.
We understand that legal IDs can be a sensitive and often dangerous issue for queer, trans*, and otherwise gender-diverse individuals. The Convention Center will not put your ID in a file or database, and they will not challenge your name, gender markers, or other information on your ID . They hold your ID as insurance so that you will return the wheelchair at the end of the day. The Convention Center’s wheelchair station is next to the Support Services table, and Simon will be available to offer assistance if there is a problem.
If you know in advance that you will need to borrow a wheelchair, please email Simon Iris at [email protected]
There will be two Spanish interpreters on-site during the Conference, but due to the high volume of attendees at the Conference, they may not be available at the last minute. For this reason, attendees are encouraged to request interpreters ahead of time. If you are planning to attend the Conference and would like Spanish interpretation while you are there, please email Simon Iris at [email protected]. You are welcome to send emails in English or Spanish, so please use the language that is easiest for you.
Service animals are welcome at PTWC! There are some indoor grassy stations in the Convention Center where dogs can go to the bathroom, which might be easier for you if you are sensitive to warm temperatures. In addition, the Accessibility lane, which goes through most hallways of the Conference, should make it easier to navigate with your service animal.
Please note: If any Convention Center employee or PTWC staff person asks questions or makes comments or demands about your service animal(s), please immediately text Simon and/or come directly to the Support Services table and we will take care of it. It is inappropriate for any person to interrogate you regarding your service animal(s), and we need to know if you experience any issues so that we can take direct action.
Workshop rooms should only be filled to the capacity of chairs available (including space for wheelchairs or other mobility devices) to ensure that all participants are able to both move freely and exit safely in the event of an emergency.
The first row of each room is reserved for folks who need to be up front to fully access the content of the workshop - for example, d/Deaf or hard of hearing individuals that need to be able to see the ASL interpreter. While we do reserve these rows, the Conference is very large and some workshops have a high volume of attendees. For this reason, we do recommend trying to get to larger workshops as early as you can (or asking a friend to arrive early and hold space for you). If you experience any problems finding seating, there are room monitors in each workshop space that will do whatever they can to assist you.
All attendees are provided with a PTWC booklet, which lists the workshop schedules and descriptions, plenary speaker bios, and overhead map of the space; as well as advertisements by sponsors, nearby resources in Philadelphia, and other pertinent information. PTWC booklets in large-print are available, as are braille booklets. If you would like either option, please stop by the Support Services table once you have arrived and registered. For more information about braille and large-print Conference booklets, you can email Simon Iris at [email protected].
We receive a number of requests each year to assist people by pushing their wheelchair, or 1:1 accompany an individual throughout the Conference. Unfortunately, due to liability issues, we are unable to provide this hands-on service to attendees. That being said, the Convention Center is a large and often confusing space, so if you have trouble locating a workshop, you are welcome to come to the Support Services table and we will be happy to walk there with you.
We have no control over the temperature within the Convention Center. It can vary day-to-day from moderately warm to very cold, but has historically been on the “very cold” side. Due to the Conference occurring during the warmer months of the year, it is likely that coming in and out of the Conference will mean you are frequently switching between two extreme temperatures. We recommend layering, especially if you are a person who is prone to sensory overload and is triggered by temperature changes.
PTWC is continually expanding and we continue to have more d/Deaf/HH attendees each year. In order to provide the most efficient and quality access for people that utilize ASL interpreters, Simon works with each individual who registers ahead of time to ensure that all requested workshops are staffed with interpreters. PTWC provides ASL interpreters automatically for the opening ceremony, both plenaries, the youth keynote speaker, and the closing ceremonies. Some of the ancillary events, such as the opening night reception and the disabilities meet-up, are also automatically staffed with interpreters.
The interpreters for PTWC are very diverse in terms of gender identity, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and background of experience. In 2018, the Conference was fortunate to work with 27 wonderful ASL interpreters, all of whom receive training in queer and trans* competency and most of whom have been interpreting for the Conference for many years. This diversity means that we have the ability to pair interpreters with attendees based on subject matter; for example, attendees in the past have repeatedly requested that male interpreters be assigned to workshops about FTM bottom surgery, and we are always able to accommodate that request.
The best way to ensure that interpreters are available for the workshops you want to go to is to contact Simon Iris ahead of time and give them your Conference schedule. While we do have a very small number of “on call” interpreters in case something comes up at the last minute, we are better able to guarantee coverage for arrangements made in advance.
If you know you are coming to the Conference and will need ASL interpreters, you should contact Simon even if you are not yet registered. As long as you give Simon your schedule two weeks prior to the Conference, we can guarantee that the workshops you want to go to will have interpreters.
The front row of every workshop is reserved for people that use interpreters. If you encounter any problems with seating or any other ASL accessibility issues during the Conference, there will be a direct number that you can text and Simon or another Support Services representative will be dispatched to assist you.
When you arrive at the Conference and have gone through registration, please come to the Support Services table to ensure that we have your schedule covered. You are also welcome to introduce yourself and meet our interpreters - the Conference can be hectic at times, so we love the opportunity to meet people so we know who we are interpreting for.
For more information about ASL interpreting at the Conference, please email Simon Iris at [email protected].