Hi everyone! Welcome to Nox Reads, I’m Nox, and I got to go to YALLWEST a few months ago!
So I went MIA for a couple of months, and a lot happened during this time. If you want to know more, you can check out my video from yesterday, which talks about where I’ve been and where I’m going (which reminds me that this is my first blog post for this round of VEDA!
(Please keep in mind I can speak only to my experiences and mobility issues, and not to anyone else’s. Everything shared is my opinion for how it went for me.)
Right before graduation, I went to YALLWEST with my friend Fen from Fen’s Library. I originally wasn’t planning on going, since I remembered how hectic and how much walking and standing there was when I went in 2019. Even though I had gone with an amazing group of friends, it was exhausting. Considering how much worse my chronic pain and mobility issues have gotten since the pandemic, I knew it would be a lot harder than before.
I trust Fen, and she’s seen how much pain I can be in, especially during long events like this, and she really came through for me. She brought water, pain meds, food, etc., (I had also brought my meds and some water but she went all out) all while making sure that I was taking my time and wasn’t in too much pain. I also took my grandparents’ spare walker with me (they had suggested I take it, considering that it was a dialysis day, neither of them would need it) so that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a place to sit when the pain got to be too much, and so I had something to support myself with while I walked. It’s safe to say that on my part, I did as much as I could to make sure that I would be okay throughout the day. I had also talked to Fen about what she wanted to do that day, so I could make sure that we covered what we both wanted. She was mainly there for Chloe Gong’s signing, and I was there for Aiden Thomas’ (literally the reason I decided to go through all of this), but there were a couple of panels that we ended up checking out!
First things first, the parking. I don’t have a handicapped placard. It seems that the disabled parking was actually on school grounds, closer to the Signing Area. If you don’t have a handicapped placard, you park off-campus at a nearby parking garage, and then walk to the front of the campus and check in, and then walk through the campus to the various events, which are mainly up a bit of an incline and in the case of the Signing Area, on the other side of the campus.
The people at the front who checked us in were incredibly patient as I sat in my walker, trying to catch my breath while finding my COVID vaccination card. I also appreciated that Yallwest asked for ID and COVID vaccination cards to make sure that attendees were vaccinated. All indoor events, like the panels we went to, required masks, and you weren’t allowed inside the building unless you had one on. If you didn’t have one on you, they had spares you could have. Considering how lax certain conventions (*cough* TwitchCon San Diego) have been with COVID restrictions, it was really comforting seeing how diligent Yallwest was about this (and how I didn’t see anyone arguing against these). I don’t think I would have gone if I hadn’t known about the policies ahead of time, and it was nice seeing them actually being implemented while at the event, especially since it was incredibly crowded. Walking around was difficult since there were so many people, even though we got there right as the event opened, and it often felt tight. Lots of people gave me space to walk through though, seeing the walker.
Other than these points, I can’t think of much more to include. The people working the event were mindful of when I couldn’t wait in lines, of making sure to tell me where the accessible seating would be, and some made sure that I was staying cool during the day (it was incredibly hot). The location is not ideal when it comes to accessibility, and if there was space for it, I’d say they should have some sort of shuttle to help get people to where they want to go. Other than that, it was accessible from a mobility perspective.
Note: Since I’m not blind or deaf, I can’t speak to the accessibility for that. However, I do not remember seeing any sign language interpreters or live captions for the panels, and I don’t know if there were any alternatives to the maps we were provided that included Braille or other aids. The panels were livestreamed, however, and the stream is still available on YouTube with automatic generated captions (which aren’t always accurate).
Overall, I’d say Yallwest was a positive, even though it was incredibly tiring and I slept for most of the Sunday afterwards. It’ll be a while before I can go back, considering I’m on the East Coast now, but I hope that future Yallwests have more booths and events available, and continue to improve their accessibility.
Until the next post!