2015 Conference Accessibility

First, a note:
We don’t have a perfect space that will meet everyone’s accessibility needs–because some folks’ access needs conflict with others’, but mostly because of the realities of the racist ableist capitalist culture we are working within. This is not an excuse or a way for Nolose to brush off our responsibility to work for radical disability justice, or a way not to make the conference accessible, but it’s our context. We also are aware that there were some problems with specific kinds of disability access the last time we had a conference at the Oakland Econolodge, and we have chosen this space again in part because it meets the greatest number of our non-negotiables, in part because the venue has new management and has made some significant changes since last time (we have vetted them and verified changes to the facilities listed on their website), and in part because we think we can crowdsource solutions to a lot of the remaining access challenges with your help.

We commit to working together as a board, and ask you to work with us, in all of our communities, to make disability access broad and deep, so our disabled community members’ participation and community building and justice work can also be broad and deep within Nolose. This accessibility information should be considered in-progress, and we will update it as we get more information and work out more soluations!

Now the specifics:

Wheelchair accessibility:
We have reserved 37 rooms, 12 of which will be on ground level, and 3 of which will have ADA accessible bathrooms. The pool social area is wheelchair accessible, as are the banquet hall and meeting rooms. The carpet in the rooms and the meeting and banquet rooms are low-pile.

If you need a first-floor room, e-mail us at accessibility at nolose dot org so we can make a list.

Swimming pool:
The pool has a lift, now.
The pool is not heated.
We were not able to buy out the hotel, so there will be some long-term hotel guests and possibly some one-time guests while we’re there. We are going to be able to put up a sign at several times during the conference that indicates that a Nolose event is taking place, so with some planning and volunteers we should be able to have de facto private pool times.

Guests who harass us will not be allowed to be in the pool with us.

The Econolodge is now on public transportation routes. Some of our community’s issues with the place in the past was about not being able easily leave the motel to get food or just get away. Now our guests will have access to a free hotel shuttle (and the hotel has agreed to make an accessible shuttle available) that goes to the Oakland airport, which is connected to BART by a new transit service.

Service Animals:
Service animals are permitted in these public accommodations. More information about emotional support animals tba.

Hotel rooms:
Half of the hotel rooms were renovated and repainted more than six months ago, so the new paint has been offgassing for awhile. Half of the uncomfortable sleep-number beds were replaced with ordinary boxspring-and-mattress beds. The hotel staff have not agreed to air out all of our rooms, or replace all of our patio furniture with armless chairs. However, the hotel staff have agreed to air out individuals’ rooms by your own personal request. Hotel staff have also agreed to put armless chairs on our guests’ patios by guest request and chair availability.
12 of our reserved rooms are first-floor rooms, and 3 of those are ADA-accessible. If you need a first-floor room please reserve a room with the Econolodge within the Nolose bloc (i.e. tell the venue you are with Nolose), but also make sure to e-mail accessibility@nolose.org so we can get a VIP list to the venue and make sure people who need accessible rooms can get them. We will give the venue a list of people who are in our first floor bloc.

The price for rooms with 2 queen beds is $10 higher than single king bed rooms.

Prices at the Econolodge are locked in for the Nolose bloc, and may go up or down based on demand for the rest of the venue. Your price should be locked in once you personally make a reservation.

It would help us if nondisabled (or able-bodied) people who don’t need a first-floor room could start by reserving outside of the Nolose bloc, and only reserving the first floor rooms if you really need them.

The venue renovated its banquet hall a year ago, so it no longer has the strong mildew scent and the paint has been offgassing for several months.

The venue was unwilling to air out all of the rooms we book, just as it was unwilling to allow us to book the entire hotel this year. We have been negotiating this point with the hotel, but were not able to come to an agreement that would affect all rooms. We have written into our contract that the staff will air out rooms for a day by the individual request of guests. The staff also agreed to air out the meeting and banquet rooms, and to use fragrance-free cleaning products that Nolose will supply. We are also aware that the last time we had a conference at the Econolodge we had it written into our contract that the staff would use fragrance-free cleaning supplies that we dropped off–and during the conference we found out that the staff had not used them. So we are taking an even more proactive approach with educating and working with the staff and also looking for workarounds to support access for community members with fragrance and other chemical sensitivities. Some of these include:

  • We will have N95 disposable masks available.
  • We are looking for an Oakland resident’s fragrance-free washing machine and dryer to use during the conference.
  • We are planning to have several air purifiers for use in the common spaces and potentially in guest rooms.
  • If you forget or can’t afford to buy fragrance-free personal care items, we will have limited fragrance-free hygiene products available in common spaces and for our community to use during the conference.
  • We will ask for volunteers to check that the venue is airing out rooms that were requested to be aired out and using scent-free products in the few days leading up to the event.

We will implement our no scent policy for conference attendees, and have limited fragrance-free personal care products available for free at the conference.

Home stays:
There is a home stay program to connect travelers to locals, to make the conference more financially and disability accessible! Details are in the facebook event page for the program, here: https://www.facebook.com/events/929173340474875/

We chose this venue in part because of its armless, comfortable chairs in the banquet hall, and availability of armless chairs in other areas. We will have armless, sturdy chairs in the banquet hall and the meeting rooms. We will have armless chairs available at the pool area, though the hotel has not agreed to have only armless chairs there. We may ask the local community to bring additional armless chairs, pillows, and fragrance-free blankets to make the venue more comfortable.

Private low-stimulation space:

There will be a quiet room in the hotel suite, in a room adjacent to the Healing Justice Practice Space, available from 8:30am-11pm daily.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity:

We are working on ways to facilitate remote access for this conference, so we will be making use of wifi and cellular telephones. This conference will not be accessible to people with EHS.