On -isms: LCS Accessibility

By | Thursday, August 10, 2017 2 comments
I've noticed over the past few years an increase in the number of wheelchair-bound fans attending comic conventions. At almost any good-sized convention any more, you can generally expect one to see at least one young fan who had a devoted and clever parent come up with a unique way to incorporate their wheelchair into a costume design. I suspect some of this is due to better technology giving them more mobility than before, but conventions too have recognized these fans' interest and have started making better accommodations.

I was thinking, though, I don't know that I've ever seen someone in a wheelchair even attempt to maneuver through a comic shop. I'm sure it's been done, but in the past 30-some years of going to comic shops, I don't recall ever having seen a single wheelchair in any of them.

In fact, there are more than a few comic shops I've been into where a wheelchair simply wouldn't make it past the entrance. The one closest to my home has so much crap near the front door, I don't think a wheelchair could make it all the way through door itself. (Seriously, I can't see how that place isn't a fire hazard.) Many of the other shops I'm familiar with are difficult to navigate as an able-bodied individual; I can't imagine how challenging they would be for anyone less mobile.

I'm sure most shops are complying with the letter of the law, and have exactly as much space available as is required by federal and local requirements demand. I mean, there are inspectors who come by to check precisely these types of things. (Not as frequently as they should, but you can only do so much when you're criminally under-funded.) And I know, too, that space is at a premium, particularly for low-profit enterprises like comic shops that rely heavily on having a lot of physical stock on-hand. So it's not surprising that most shop owners try to cram as much as they possibly can into their stores. I'm sure they'd fill their shops even more if they weren't required to have minimum aisle widths and the like.

Have you ever stayed in a hotel room that was specifically designed to be accessible? Personally, I find that they're simply better rooms because the things they change to make it accessible are just a better fit for humans of all types. Everything that's easier to get to from a wheelchair is easier to get to without one too. There's actual thought put into the design decisions made for an accessible room that, I think, are simply "that's just how we things are done" decisions for other rooms. My stays in accessible rooms have always been more enjoyable than in their non-accessible equivalents.

So I'm wondering if comic shops might take the same idea. By making the store itself more accessible, would it not become a better environment for able-bodied customers as well? As I think back over the years, most of the better shops I've been in were indeed more spacious and didn't feel the need to cram every inch of space with stuff. I wonder if such a change would alter the clientele, or would it simply bring in more people? (All other things being equal.)

Something to think about if you work at a comic shop...
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Anonymous said...

Was by the LCS by you a week ago Sunday. Still no posted hours and a "back in 1 hour" sign from 1:30 to 2:30. Ate at the hot dog place he shares a lot with and left before he got back. Good times!

I don't wish him ill, certainly, but I don't understand how he can stay in business with the way he runs the place.