Following on from the General Guide for Players, here are my Top 5 Tips for LARPing with Access Needs.
- Talk to the organisers
This is one of the biggest things you can do. Hopefully plenty of information about the game and accessibility will be made early on, but it helps to talk to the organisers early on to clarify any points of concern and to make sure your access needs will be accommodated. Early contact also makes it easier to have conversations about accessibility later on, if your circumstances change or something comes up later or even at the event that you have concerns about.
- Make sure to fill out booking forms accurately
This is related to point one but a little more specific. Booking forms usually have a space for disclosing any access, needs, medical information and dietary requirements. Firstly I should make it clear that you need only disclose things you are comfortable disclosing. Additionally organisers should have a good policy of non-disclosure and keeping player’s details private. However, giving clear accurate information at this stage can be hugely helpful. There may be things that you don’t think are relevant that the organisers actually will take into acount. Sometimes this is because we just don’t realise that something can be accomodated or made easier, but often this is because we don’t know everything that an organiser has in store. There may be odd bits of plot, quirks of a venue or strange props that players won’t know about until the event but that could create access issues. This is especially important for allergies – it’s not always about food but about props and special effects.
Being as frank as you are comfortable prevents surprises on the day. You may find that organisers will contact you for clarification on some aspects prior to the game in order to meet accessibility goals.
3. Plan ahead
This is especially important for people who have variable conditions that are impacted by activity or other factors. You may need to organise your schedule in the run up to a game to make sure you are sufficiently rested before a game or to avoid situations or activities which could trigger flare ups. Take time to consider how you are travelling and if this will have an impact on your body. For examples if you have arthritis which is aggravated by long periods of sitting is a long train journey the day before the event the best idea?
Do you have everything you need for the game and time to get it without a last minute rush?
This can include making sure any prescription medications you need are available for the game and ordering your prescription early to be sure.
4. Pack Everything!
Meds, joint supports, special pillows, ice packs, heat packs, the special spanner for your wheelchair, your charger, spare battery, fiddle toys, syringes …
Whatever you need to manage your health or disability make sure to pack it. I generally advise packing extras of the things your really need (such as medications) in case things get misplaced, and the things you don’t always need but are valuable when you do need them. Maybe you don’t always need to strap your elbows up, but you don’t want to find yourself out of action at an event. When did you last put a battery in your hearing aid? Maybe take a spare along just in case.
There’s extra things too that just make life easier. I can sleep on regular pillows but I get better sleep and less pain with memory foam pillow and I need all the energy I can get at a LARP so if we have the space you can be sure I take it with me.
The traditional advice to LARPer, especially for weekend and outdoor games it to pack socks, no more than that. Extending this thinking to your living and health aids can make events many times easier.
5. Have a LARP buddy.
This is great whatever your access needs, disability or illness. Having a trusted person you will be spending a lot of time with during the game is invaluable, even better if you are part of a group. Let these trusted people know of any special requirements you have or difficulties you may encounter. Useful info includes where you have stashed meds in case you want somebody to fetch them for you,if you may be needing to nap OC, how and when you want people interacting with your mobility aid – if at all – or common symptoms you may have and when to worry and when NOT to worry. Having people on side makes things go a lot smoother especially if you do encounter a situation that is less accessible or that you need some help with. Many of you will know how frustrating it is to have to explain your whole backstory to somebody when all you really want to say is “hold on I need to do my injection.”
What ever your LARP adventures this year I hope these tips help make you games easier.
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