Well, I've got an idea for how to fix it. It's called the Simple, Step-by-Step Approach for Handling Disability at Cons for Convention Staff (or Sad Cocos for short). It goes something like this:
- Send emails and notices to all attendees requesting anyone with mobility issues to contact you.
- Send those notices again shortly before the convention (a week ahead, perhaps) just in case the first message didn't arrive.
- Keep a list of all equipment requirements for various panels and events at the con. You should know where things need to be and when so you can properly coordinate.
- Before the convention starts, go through all of the areas where attendees are allowed to go. If any areas are not accessible, fix it right away. Make sure you have enough ramps based on past attendance (I would say three is a bare minimum, but I could be really wrong there)
- Tell your registration staff to be mindful of people with mobility issues. They should check names against panelist rosters when folks come to register to make sure everything is covered. I wouldn't recommend drawing attention to anything (this is where folks who actually have disabilities should jump in with an opinion -- please!)
- If someone comes to the registration desk who is on a panel and has mobility issues, the staff should double check that ramps and what not are pegged to go to X location at Y time. If you didn't know that this individual needed ramps, you should make a note of it on your schedule and update relevant staff about the change right away. If for some reason you don't have enough ramps at a given time, consider getting another (if possible) OR finding a way to maintain that individual's dignity without making everyone aware that there's a ramp issue (perhaps move all of the tables to floor level between panels or something).
- If someone complains about mobility problems at your con, you should contact them for specifics, apologize, and tell them you will try to fix it next time. Don't argue about it. Don't blame them for not getting in touch. You're in charge of the damned event, so it's up to you to make sure everything is accessible.
That's it. Seems pretty simple, no?
Note: it seems as if Worldcon stopped somewhere around step 3.