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Author Topic: Accessibility and ritual  (Read 929 times)

Jenett

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Accessibility and ritual
« on: June 28, 2019, 10:33:31 am »
Thinking about this news thread, I thought it might be handy to have a discussion of what accessibility stuff you look for or think about when it comes to ritual and related practices.

What do you look for?
What do you think about if you're helping with a group event?
Are there limits on who can participate in the things you do that are related to accessibility?
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Jenett

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Re: Accessibility and ritual
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2019, 10:55:06 am »
What do you look for?
What do you think about if you're helping with a group event?
Are there limits on who can participate in the things you do that are related to accessibility?

So, I'm a person with chronic health issues, and some related accessibility issues (and some kinds of events I just can't realistically do anymore - I don't think a camping festival is in me at this point.)

I also work somewhere that deals with a particular set of accessibility issues, and one of the things we talk about a lot are conflicting access needs. For example, people who need bright direct lights, vs. people who can't function unless the lighting is dim or indirect, space where people can be loud or unpredictable vs. people who have problems with loud noises or have balance issues or other mobility issues where unpredictable movement around them is really scary or dangerous.

When I'm attending stuff, I look for information about accessibility - I want events to provide basic info about step-free access, access to restrooms, whether we're going to be inside or outside, and a general sense of how physically active the event will be.

('We're going to be in one room inside with climate control if we need it' is a very different thing for me than 'we're going to be outside and the ritual will include a quarter mile procession to the river' - in a bad week, the latter may take me a week to recover from, and I'm not going to go if it's a busy week at work or I already have other priority commitments that week).

For my group, I have a page up about accessibility, and I do my best to make it clear what stuff is flexible, and what stuff isn't. I don't know how much people actually read it, but it's there, and I can point to it if there are questions.

For example, I host most group events, and my home is chosen to meet my own accessibility needs - rent I can more or less afford, a manageable commute to work, etc. But it requires steps to get to my apartment, and because of my own allergies and my cat, I can't have service dogs in my apartment, even though I love getting to see them at work.

For early discussion with the group, I don't need to know anything beyond "Is this a reasonable place to meet someone for the initial public conversation" and "Can they get to my place". But for someone to become a Dedicant, there's a more involved questionnaire where I ask some fairly nosy questions so that we can talk about accessibility and modification needs in advance as needed. Both for the good of the group, and for my ability to function, I really need not to be suddenly surprised by something coming up in ritual or class if I can avoid it.

(It's possible someone would say something in response to those questions that would mean I'd decline them as a student, but I'm clear that in most cases that won't be an issue so long as someone has appropriate professional support available.)

Other thoughts
One of the other things I think about is that not everything is a good fit for everyone. I strongly prefer an inclusive model. (I am fundamentally a Hufflepuff), but I'm also part of a mystery-focused initiatory tradition that has some expectations and requirements. It doesn't do anyone any good to put someone in a position of feeling like a failure.

A member of the group I trained with had some intellectual disabilities: the group decision was that she was fine as an initiate, but that (even with appropriate accommodations) wasn't a good candidate to take on some of the specific ritual commitments and group commitments of the higher degrees (which do require a particular kind of executive function and self-propelled reliability, as well as some specific ritual skills). So we found ways she could participate (and there were also other members of the group that didn't want or seek higher degrees, which I think is a good norm to set, honestly, when it's possible.)
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Kylara

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Re: Accessibility and ritual
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2019, 04:19:08 pm »
Thinking about this news thread, I thought it might be handy to have a discussion of what accessibility stuff you look for or think about when it comes to ritual and related practices.

What do you look for?
What do you think about if you're helping with a group event?
Are there limits on who can participate in the things you do that are related to accessibility?

Typically speaking, I don't need any particular accommodations at most rituals.  I am situationally highly introverted, and have anxiety issues I deal with, but most of the time that is before/after stuff (I freak out before a thing, then I'm fine when I'm doing it, then I freak out again after).

One of my very close pagan friends has kidney failure, and two other friends have serious anxiety at times.  We meet up on a very local level (pretty much just us), so it's very low key and personal.  Typically we are at their home, so other than not planning things that might require a lot of very physical stuff, we don't have to make special plans.

A couple times a year we meet with a larger group, and there is at least one other person who has trouble standing for long periods, so we always make sure there are places to sit in circle (often there are hay bales, but also people bring folding chairs), and we make sure everyone knows that it's okay if they need to sit.

I tend to think of accessibility as a multi-sided conversation.  Obviously the person hosting can dictate what is or is not going to be allowed.  And then each person has to make their own needs known...and then decide if the ritual is a good fit for them.

Finally, there is some level of group comfort.  If you have to make a dozen people uncomfortable to allow one person to attend, even if those dozen people are willing, it might not be something that should be done for every ritual.  This sort of reminds me of the kids at ritual topic.  My son is grown, but even when he was little, I really didn't want to have all my rituals that I attended be kid-friendly rituals.  And now, I really don't want to always have littles running around, because it's distracting.  I'm fine doing it from time to time, and if someone is hosting, who has kids, and says kids are fine, then I'm okay with it, but I don't think I could only go to kid-friendly rituals.  Of course, my choice to not go is my choice, but if the group is 80% people who would rather kids not be present, then it becomes a group decision on how many rituals kids should be brought to (if that makes sense...)

I think at the most basic it all comes to communication.  If you have needs, you need to make people aware of them (because, being a mostly able-bodied person, I don't always think about things that might be very important to other people).  But if you have big requests/needs for a ritual space, you might also have to accept that not every ritual can accommodate those needs.  Sometimes it really is a matter of finding the group that matches you best, not just trying to make every group work, even if it's not a good fit.
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Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Accessibility and ritual
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2019, 04:48:15 pm »

What do you look for?
What do you think about if you're helping with a group event?
Are there limits on who can participate in the things you do that are related to accessibility?

I run regular open rituals. Accessibility is governed by the site. I use an ancient sacred site that has parking within 200yds but it's still very rough land that needs to be crossed and there are no facilities at all there. Everyone is made aware of this.

I will accommodate as far as possible but people have to make me aware in advance of any limitations so I can try and make it possible for them to participate in the ritual. For example if I know someone is hearing impaired I will give them a copy of the ritual design and my notes so they can follow and join in without needing verbal cues.

However ultimately there is work to be done and it has to be done effectively. If someone can't take part in certain aspects of the ritual then that is unfortunate but there will be parts they can do (and  I'll  try my hardest to find a role in the ritual that they can perform whilst the rest are doing the physical bit). For many people the only opportunity they get to work in a group is in an open ritual and I want them to have a powerful experience. I've been to too many open workings where the organiser is just going through the motions and/or is trying to be all things to all people and all you have left  is the theatre.

Private coven work is a lot easier!


TsundokuTeaTime

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Re: Accessibility and ritual
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2019, 02:14:47 am »
What do you look for?
What do you think about if you're helping with a group event?
Are there limits on who can participate in the things you do that are related to accessibility?

I live in a rural area and not many people consider accessibility until they are faced with someone who needs accommodations. For the most part, there are not many pagan gatherings here unless you already know people within that circle. It's more along the lines of small groups informally hanging out.

What I typically look for in a group is openness and willingness to communicate without relying on Facebook. If you don't have FB you don't exist it seems. I have an aversion to such social networks for many reasons. If it's not FB I might join and check out stuff...but FB is a huge no for me, unfortunately. I also would like if the group is actually working on achieving something. Nothing wrong with a friendly gathering, but I find very little substance in what I've seen from the groups around here.

Besides that, sometimes I look for gatherings where they say it's okay for children to be around. I typically don't want to be around families or children, but I want to know that the general atmosphere is something where a child could be around without too much trouble. Not all the time, mind you. Far too often around here Pagan gatherings turn into a focus on substances or ultra boozy. While that may be part of some people's paths and ways of life, my PTSD has me hypervigilant around such things and there's a good chance I'll flashback to a very bad place. For instance, a few drinks or communion won't freak me out- even being skyclad I'm okay. I also prefer smallish groups where you know who you're dealing with without too many randoms popping in and out. This due to social anxiety mostly.

I've not had the opportunity to help out with a group event yet. Ideally, communication will be open and discussions will be frank in relation to accommodations and inquiries about the group. It wasn't until last year that I came out about needing accommodations, so I get that it can be intimidating.
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