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Subject: WBC 2011 non ADA compliant rss

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Grand Pooba

Bowling Green
Ohio
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This was my 2nd WBC that I attended. I have to say that my experience this year was not as good as last year. The weekend before WBC started I manages to break my left foot. I knew when I did this that going to WBC would be challenging. I did not expect it to be as bad as it was. I called the Lancaster Host to ask if they were ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant to make sure that I would be able to get to all the rooms in a wheelchair. They assured me that this would not be a problem. To be honest I experienced nothing but problems. To start with the wheelchair ramp out side the Host was constantly blocked by their maintenance golf carts. Not all the rooms were wheelchair accessible. For example the Lampeter and Conestoga rooms were not accessible at all due to the fact that the lift located near the stairs was inoperable. The Open game room was only accessible by going through two kitchens, taking a freight elevator (which I got stuck in) and then going through another kitchen. The Strasburg and Limerock rooms were inaccessible due to the stairs that are needed to be climbed to get to them. I spoke with several others in attendance who were wheel chair bound and they indicated that they were having the same problems.

I suggest that those who organize WBC look into making the event accessible to everybody.

Did I have fun at WBC 2011?: NO
Will I come back next year?: Yes because being able to play in some games is better than nothing
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Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
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I was the GM for a tournament in Limerock, and I had a player in a wheelchair. We used a table in the room across the hall (Marietta?) and this was a workable solution, though obviously it would be better if all the rooms were accessible.

I want to make sure everyone can participate without difficulty, and I'm sure the WBC management team does too. The facility presents some challenges.
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Rich Shipley
United States
Baltimore
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In many ways, the Host is very gamer friendly. But it is not wheelchair friendly at all and mobility issues shouldn't be much of a factor in gaming.

When a change in location is discussed, this is an important issue to consider.
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Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
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I think the location of the host is terrific. With access to outlets, Dutch Wonderland, Hershey, Harrisburg, and Philly - people can bring non-gaming family with them to vacation.

I do agree the host is horribly behind the times in many facets, not the least is accessibility. Technology is amazingly poor as well. When you get free wi-fi at McDonald's, there is no excuse for a "resort" to not have property wide wi-fi -- or at the very least, plug in options in rooms.
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Barrett Straub
United States
Lexington Park
MD
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I would lodge a complaint with the hotel. I would lodge a complaint with the company that owns the hotel. and I would file a complaint with Better Bis bureau.

But I am kinda a jerk.

and I have a lot of respect for people with disabilities and the respect and care they deserve.
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robert kircher
United States
Rhode Island
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Having problems was not a surprise. There was a router outside my room and I often could not log in. But when you think of it, their network was likely designed for one device per room. Now you take your WBC crowd which is more tech save than average vacationers each armed with one or two devices and then stack them up 4 to a room, the network overloads. Just like during the east coast earthquake when everyone tried to use their phone at once.

I like the host alot. As long as we see them try each year to improve the facility each year.
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Grand Pooba

Bowling Green
Ohio
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Thank you for the feed back from others. Its nice to know that I'm not the only one who sees this a problem. Granted there were only a handful of people with mobility issues at WBC this year but we were unintentionally excluded from some of the events. I don't think that WBC is to blame I just strongly feel that the Host needs to address the ADA issues they have.

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j b Goodwin

Lynchburg
Virginia
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sigtaulefty wrote:
I think the location of the host is terrific. With access to outlets, Dutch Wonderland, Hershey, Harrisburg, and Philly - people can bring non-gaming family with them to vacation.

I do agree the host is horribly behind the times in many facets, not the least is accessibility. Technology is amazingly poor as well. When you get free wi-fi at McDonald's, there is no excuse for a "resort" to not have property wide wi-fi -- or at the very least, plug in options in rooms.

Did you completely miss the purpose of this post?
 
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Max Jamelli
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swandive78 wrote:
sigtaulefty wrote:
I think the location of the host is terrific. With access to outlets, Dutch Wonderland, Hershey, Harrisburg, and Philly - people can bring non-gaming family with them to vacation.

I do agree the host is horribly behind the times in many facets, not the least is accessibility. Technology is amazingly poor as well. When you get free wi-fi at McDonald's, there is no excuse for a "resort" to not have property wide wi-fi -- or at the very least, plug in options in rooms.

Did you completely miss the purpose of this post?


No I did not. I've posted in several areas regarding my thoughts on the handicap accessibility of the host and I agree it's awful.

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Kaarin Engelmann
Germany
Stuttgart-Plieningen
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I'm glad you came to WBC this year despite your broken foot and happy that you will be back next year. Thank you for commenting on something important that people don't usually notice until it affects them.

I concur that accessiblity is an issue at the Host. The Host is supposed to be working on it, but things have not gotten better over the past few years. We continue to press on the issue and will do our best to see the situation improves for 2012.

When it comes to participating in a tournament, contact the GM or Don Greenwood or me (ahead of time or at the convention), and we will ensure that each person is accommodated by assisting him or her to the room or moving the tournament or a table to a more accessible location.

Even at the last minute, I suspect that you can send a friend (or future friend) to the tournament location to sign you up and request accommodation.

Sincerely yours,
Kaarin Engelmann
WBC Asst. Convention Director
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Gary Bacchus
United States
Altamonte Springs
Florida
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kengelma wrote:
I'm glad you came to WBC this year despite your broken foot and happy that you will be back next year. Thank you for commenting on something important that people don't usually notice until it affects them.

I concur that accessiblity is an issue at the Host. The Host is supposed to be working on it, but things have not gotten better over the past few years. We continue to press on the issue and will do our best to see the situation improves for 2012.

When it comes to participating in a tournament, contact the GM or Don Greenwood or me (ahead of time or at the convention), and we will ensure that each person is accommodated by assisting him or her to the room or moving the tournament or a table to a more accessible location.

Even at the last minute, I suspect that you can even send a friend (or future friend) to the tournament location to sign you up and request accommodation.

Sincerely yours,
Kaarin Engelmann
WBC Asst. Convention Director


As you've pressed the issues multiple times to no avail, would a change of venue be totally out of the question?
 
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Kevin C.
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Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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Quote:
As you've pressed the issues multiple times to no avail, would a change of venue be totally out of the question?


That's probably a decision of myriad factors, beyond ADA issues.

If I'm not mistaken, the Board actually votes on the venue. So, I don't think it can be done by simple decree.

There is also the not-so minor issue of money. The Host used to be the bell of the ball in Lancaster. It has, however, seen better days. I would think they know this and adjust their price accordingly.

More "updated" venues might simply be too expensive for similar square-footage. Since this year reached record attendance, the admission price seems to be right in the wheelhouse of gamers looking to attend a con. Raise the price by changing the venue could throw a monkey wrench in.

Lastly, is the Host actually out of compliance with the ADA? I'm not up on the specifics, but isn't the whole idea that you can't exclude anyone based on disability? There are certain design restrictions and mandates, but doesn't the commercial entity just have to accomodate beyond that?

So, if the elevators don't work, but the event is moved or other accomodations are made, then the ADA is satisfied, no? They just can't say, "Sorry, we aren't doing anything for you...it is what is is." That would be a violation.

Kevin


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United States
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natsean wrote:
Quote:
As you've pressed the issues multiple times to no avail, would a change of venue be totally out of the question?



Lastly, is the Host actually out of compliance with the ADA? I'm not up on the specifics, but isn't the whole idea that you can't exclude anyone based on disability? There are certain design restrictions and mandates, but doesn't the commercial entity just have to accomodate beyond that?

So, if the elevators don't work, but the event is moved or other accomodations are made, then the ADA is satisfied, no? They just can't say, "Sorry, we aren't doing anything for you...it is what is is." That would be a violation.

Kevin




They do have to make modifications that are "readily achievable", but there a lot of factors that go into whether something is readily achievable. An example is ramping a few steps, but they will take into account things like cost to the hotels. I would think if they aren't maintaining their elevators (as opposed to retrofitting), that would be another example of something that should be "readily achievable".

If they do alterations to existing facilities, then those new renovations have to be made accessible.

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Richard Irving
United States
Salinas
California
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The Host has several issues, access for patrons with mobility issues is certainly a major one. The place was designed by MC Escher:

Photo of Lancaster Host during the WBC:


I noticed the lack of lifts in Lampeter and the Open Gaming theater were out of order or removed. That cuts off the open gaming area and most of the wargame tournaments. (Lampeter could be reached the long way around to the back door--not that I think this is really an acceptable solution.)

And if a player in the event I GM can't access a room (frequently we are in Limerock), I have no problem moving that table to an easier to reach room.
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Phil Sauer
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Willow Street
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jakal323 wrote:
As you've pressed the issues multiple times to no avail, would a change of venue be totally out of the question?

I certainly can't speak for anyone formally affiliated with WBC, but if I recall correctly, BPA is under contract with the Host for a few more years. I certainly don't know if the Host is in breach regarding this issue, but I would think a change of venue is quite unlikely, barring catastrophe.

An opinion only.
 
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Steve Bachman
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Colonie
New York
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The point of the ADA Guidelines "is to allow a person with a physical disability to independently get to, enter, and use a site, facility, building, or element." Inoperable or non-existent lifts and elevators violate that intent, although a longer route does not. The Host is seriously lacking in most aspects of accessibility, but it was built prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 so it isn't terribly surprising. I'm not sure about Pennsylvania specifically, but many states still do not require direct compliance with ADA. However, businesses can be sued for failure to provide accessibility per the Guidelines. It ends up being a legal issue moreso than a Building Code issue. It is also part of the reason many many existing buildings do not get renovated in a timely manner (e.g. The Host). As soon as renovations exceed a certain degree, the building needs to be brought up to current Building Code as well as ADA Guidelines. So many places can only afford to put "Band-Aids" in place rather than risk bankruptcy through a gut or even substantial renovation.

Does this make it right? No, but it perhaps will shed some light on why building owners haven't made their buildings accessible. The owners of the Host aren't (necessarily) jerks, but they have an absolute accessibility nightmare with the design of the resort and it would take a small fortune to fix that.

As suggested above, complaining to the Host and its owners directly will likely help the cause more than going through the BPA (which has already complained on our behalf). Having a lawyer contact them about it might get better mileage still. Considering it doesn't seem to be a matter of fraudulent, I suspect the Better Business Bureau won't care about it.
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Mark Kalina
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Vernon
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A key issue that applies is the age of the structure, buildings that substantially predate the act have different options to attempt to comply than post ADA structures. Of course if you can comfortably accommodate folks with disabilities I would think it good for business.

Other issues are the ability to find a location that is affordable for WBC attendees, reasonably located and most importantly, available for what the BPA can pay. Change one or more of these and the overall dynamics may change. So there are many other issues that are in play. Personally, it is a good choice for my family to have the convention there as there are many entertainment options within an hour or less. Without which, I am sure, some might not attend if they could not turn the experience into a family vacation.
 
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Marty Sample
United States
MILFORD
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I think the current BPA contract is for another 2-3 years.

Even if there were grounds to break it earlier ( and I have no knowledge of what the contact entails ) Mark Kalina brings up a very valid point - finding another facility to move to is no trivial task. IIRC the BPA has already re-upped the contract with the Host once since it was first moved from Hunt Valley, which while it was certainly more accessible both travel wise and ADA wise, had grown too small and too expensive. This move was done after the Board researched all possible options.

Recently, Historicon tried to move back to the Host for 2012 and found that it was already booked at least another two years out during the time frame they requested.

At the current rate of growth for WBC, the number of facilities that would meet an admittedly diverse and unusual set of criteria AND deliver them at a cost deemed affordable by a large percentage of potential attendees is scarce. Most convention venues that can hold 2000+ people ( which is what WBC will probably be at by the time the current contract is up ) are geared towards conventions whose attendees are either willing to pay more - or are being paid to attend by their employers, a la the convention meccas like Orlando or Vegas.

Back to the more immediate topic of ADA access, it seems that the admittedly poor accessibility of the Host was even more lacking this year than in years past. I am sure Don will bring this up with them. However, the hotel is not exactly flush with cash when it comes to capital improvements or even smaller scale repairs. The fact that that is just as packed during non WBC weekends - the weekend when the precon is held the hotel is still totally packed with other functions - would indicate that the current condition of the Host doesn't hamper their ability to book groups or incentivize them to invest above the bare minimum.
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Kevin Brown
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rri1 wrote:
And if a player in the event I GM can't access a room (frequently we are in Limerock), I have no problem moving that table to an easier to reach room.


OTOH, if the WBC had one or more GMs with a mobility issue it could become a logistical problem. Given the issues finding them now, I doubt they would be interested in limiting the pool of potential GMs.
 
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Marty Sample
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Other than Limerock and the other small room next to it, in theory all the other function rooms are handicap accessible. So if a GM has a mobility issue, as long as they bring it up when signing up to run an event, the BPA staff should be able to schedule an appropriate venue.

Now, if they are chair bound on short notice, as in the case of the OP, that might be a bit trickier .
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Thomas McCorry
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Appreciate everyone's comments on this thread. The BPA Board is well aware of the issues you have noted and will continue to work to improve the situation as best we can.

As was noted there are several factors at play:

1) The Host's ability/willingness to improve the accessibility of the facility. They have been making some capital improvements (there was a new HVAC system that supportted the downstairs ballrooms) but major reconstuction to address the ADA issues have not come to the top of the list.

2) Our current contract with the Host goes out to 2015 (note the BPA website has the specific dates listed that far out in advance)

3) Finding an acceptable alternative site. The Historicon abortive attempt to move to downtown Baltimore and the compromises they have had to make with a new venue since their annual slot at the Host was taken by another group is indicative of the difficulties of conventions of our size.


In the meantime, any ideas on how we can make the WBC more accessible given the current hotel are always welcome.

Tom McCorry
BPA Board Member

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Richard Irving
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » Conventions » WBC
Re: WBC 2011 non ADA compliant
pilight wrote:
rri1 wrote:
And if a player in the event I GM can't access a room (frequently we are in Limerock), I have no problem moving that table to an easier to reach room.


OTOH, if the WBC had one or more GMs with a mobility issue it could become a logistical problem. Given the issues finding them now, I doubt they would be interested in limiting the pool of potential GMs.


If a GM with a mobility issue (or one who knows if a regular player has a mobility issue), let Don know of the issue. It can be done on the GM form or by separate e-mail. I am sure he would make every effort to use the most accessible rooms to aid that GM.

If it is a sudden injury, like a broken leg, let Don and your assistant GM's know. Ask for help from your players, etc. One event this year had the regular missed the WBC (due to job issue, not an injury), his assistants ably filled in. Help is available for the asking.
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