Accessibility Services

What’s in this guide?

This guide will help you plan your experience at Chicon 8. It will provide information on how to get your memberships, onsite accommodations, what special plans or programs are available, and how to get in touch with us for more information. You can click on any of the header topics below to skip to that section of this guide.

We are working hard to ensure that disabled members have full access to the convention, and more details about services we will offer will be coming as they are developed. Because everyone has unique needs, please email us at access@chicon.org if you need more detailed information. We are happy to track down more information for you.

Buying your membership

Worldcon offers two types of memberships: attending and supporting. Supporting memberships give you voting rights, but not access to the convention itself. For access to the convention, you need an attending membership. Everyone with an attending membership is eligible to get help from Accessibility Services. This includes Adult, First Worldcon, YA, Teen, Child, and Kid-in-Tow membership levels.

You can buy your membership online on our website. The rates change throughout the year. Buying early may help save you some money. You may purchase your membership with a credit card, debit card, or check.

You can also purchase your membership in-person at our fan tables at many science fiction and fantasy conventions. To find out where we will be next, be sure to follow our Twitter account and our Facebook page.

There are not free or discounted membership rates for disabled members. There are scholarship opportunities for select groups of members. You can learn more and apply on our website.

If your disability needs require you to have a trained caregiver with you at the convention to help you with activities of daily living, please email Accessibility Services to discuss your membership options.

Hotel information

Basic information

The host hotel for Chicon 8 is the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The hotel’s address is 151 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601. You can reach them by phone at +1 312-565-1234. The hotel will not be able to answer specific room block questions. For room questions, please email Accessibility Services.

There is also this resource from a wheelchair user who has provided a rating and review of his experience in an ADA sleeping room at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Parking information

(Important note- hotel parking has been affected due to COVID-19 and information is subject to change. This section may be updated periodically, so please check often.)

Due to COVID-19, valet parking at the hotel is currently suspended. The nearest self-parking option is the garage located at 111 East Wacker Dr. If you park in this garage, please notify the front desk when you check-in. They will provide you with a QR code that will let you enter and leave the garage. It will also give you access to the $53/night rate.

Reservation information

Reservations for the Worldcon block will open in early 2022. If you would like to be on the list for information on how to reserve an accessible room, please email Accessibility Services with your name and specific details on room needs (such as a roll-in shower, shower chair, visual alert system for Deaf/deaf, a room located very near an elevator, lower floor, hypoallergenic, mini-fridge for medicine or special diet food storage, etc.)

Please do not contact the hotel directly to try to reserve a room prior to the room block opening. You will not be able to get the Worldcon rate, and accessible rooms will not be available for booking outside of the reserved block.

Navigation information

The Hyatt Regency Chicago does pose some challenges in terms of physical access and navigation, especially in the panel areas. There are some narrow hallways and close-quarter bathrooms in function spaces, and the potential for long walks between panel rooms. A map with recommended routes for step-free access is in development. If you have experienced problems with the Hyatt Regency Chicago at past events, or if you would like to be involved in the creation of the map, please email Accessibility Services with your information.

Elevators will be prioritized for disabled members or those who cannot navigate stairs. Abled members are strongly encouraged to take the stairs or escalators in order to ensure access. In times of high demand, elevators may be monitored by convention staff and abled members will be asked to wait until all disabled members have boarded the elevator. Abled members are reminded that elevators are a convenience for them, but a necessity for others.

There will be longer gaps between program items in order to allow all members more time to get where they are going safely. Additionally, rest areas will be placed in common areas to help break up long walks between panel rooms.

Getting around town

For general planning purposes around Chicago, we recommend the Choose Chicago website, but we have more specific information below as well.

From the airports

The hotel is located 13 miles from Midway airport and 17 miles from O’Hare airport. The hotel does not offer an airport shuttle, but they recommend using Go Airport Express. This is a shuttle service that offers several ride options.

If you need an ADA-compliant vehicle, please select the “taxi direct” option. The company states that their private sedans are not ADA-compliant. There is a checkbox on the reservation page to indicate that you need an ADA-compliant vehicle. You can enter additional notes about your specific needs further down on that same page under the “other information” header.

From the bus station

The hotel is located two miles from the Greyhound bus terminal. If you are taking CTA (Chicago’s bus system) to reach the hotel, the following route requires the least amount of walking and includes an accessible bus. Once off the bus, the path is all on paved sidewalks and mostly flat terrain.

  • Travel 300 ft from the Greyhound terminal to the bus stop at Harrison & Jefferson
  • Take the 60 bus towards Randolph/Harbor Drive
  • Get off at the Randolph & Michigan stop
  • Head north towards East Lake Street
  • Turn right and travel 0.1 miles
  • Turn left on North Stetson Ave and travel 0.1 miles
  • The Hyatt will be on the right, on the corner of North Stetson Ave and East Wacker Drive

The closest Blue Line L station to the terminal is Clinton, but it is not listed as an accessible (step-free) station. The closest accessible station is UIC-Halsted, which is a half mile away from the terminal. Once on the Blue Line, take it eastbound six stops to the Clark/Lake station (5 stops if you board at Clinton). Then follow the below directions once you exit the station. The station is 0.6 miles from the hotel. The path is all on paved sidewalks and mostly flat terrain.

  • Head east on West Lake St towards North Clark St. Travel 0.5 mile.
  • Turn left on North Stetson Ave. Travel 0.1 mile.
  • The Hyatt will be on the left, on the corner of North Stetson Ave and East Wacker Drive.

From the train station

The hotel is located two miles from Chicago Union Station. If you are taking CTA to reach the hotel, the following route requires the least amount of walking and includes an accessible bus. Once off the bus, the path is all on paved sidewalks and mostly flat terrain.

  • Travel 325 ft from Union Station to the Union Station Transit Center
  • Take the 124 bus towards Navy Pier
  • Get off at the Columbus & East Wacker Drive stop
  • Head north towards East Wacker Drive
  • Turn left and travel 0.1 mile
  • The Hyatt will be on the left, on the corner of the next intersection (North Stetson Ave and East Wacker Drive)

If you prefer to take the Blue Line the closest station to Union Station is Clinton, but it is not listed as an accessible (step-free) station. The closest accessible station is UIC-Halsted, which is a half mile away from the station. Once on the Blue Line, take it eastbound six stops to the Clark/Lake station (5 stops if you board at Clinton). Then follow the below directions once you exit the station. The station is 0.6 miles from the hotel. The path is all on paved sidewalks and mostly flat terrain.

  • Head east on West Lake St towards North Clark St. Travel 0.5 mile.
  • Turn left on North Stetson Ave. Travel 0.1 mile.
  • The Hyatt will be on the left, on the corner of North Stetson Ave and East Wacker Drive.

Around town

Choose Chicago has a wonderful website with lots of accessibility information for tourism. The rest of this section will detail accessible transportation options.

Go Airport Express also offers around-town transportation, including accessible options. You can book point-to-point travel in advance using the same booking process as for airport runs. Make sure to select the “taxi direct” option when booking if you need an ADA-compliant vehicle. Rates will vary based on distance. Make sure to book at least 24 hours in advance to ensure availability.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus and train system is available for around-city transportation. This does not require an advance reservation. 100% of the buses and railcars are accessible (including lifts, ramps, and places to safely secure a wheelchair on the vehicle), and 103 out of 145 train stations are accessible with elevators and no-step access. You can learn more about individual routes and stations on CTA’s website. (Please note: the CTA’s reduced fare program for disabled customers is only open to current Illinois residents and requires an application & approval.)

The Chicago Water Taxi is a great sight-seeing option. Seniors and disabled customers can receive $3 (50%) off tickets. There are limited wheelchair-accessible routes and boats, and the company strongly recommends making your reservation in advance to ensure availability. The Riverwalk entrance at the intersection of Clark and Wacker streets is ADA accessible and is the closest to the Water Taxi station. There is also an ADA entrance at State and Wacker, and you can then travel down the Riverwalk to the station. You can reach them at +1-312-337-1446. Service animals are allowed on all boats. You can learn more and book your tickets on their website.

Getting help at the con

Qualifications

Chicon 8 does not have a set definition of what is or is not a disability or access need. Instead, all members who have needs that would make an area of the convention inaccessible to them can receive help. A partial list of covered conditions is below, but this is not an inclusive list. Other conditions may qualify.

  • Use of a wheelchair, electric scooter, crutches, walker, cane, prosthetic, or other mobility aid
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Deaf/deaf, hard of hearing, or auditory processing disorders
  • Blind or low vision
  • Severe or anaphylactic allergies, including but not limited to foods, chemicals, scents, or service animal dander
  • Broken bones and limb loss
  • Recent surgeries and serious illnesses
  • Chronic or long-term medical conditions, including but not limited to diabetes, lupus, cancer, long COVID, and reactivated EBV
  • Pregnancy, especially high-risk or late-term pregnancies
  • Joint, muscle, or connective tissue damage or disorders, including but not limited to hypotonia, muscular dystrophy, EDS/hEDS, chronic muscle pain, and temporary conditions due to injury
  • Breathing or lung disorders, including but not limited to cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and COPD
  • Balance disorders, including but not limited to vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and vestibular dysfunctions
  • Heart (and heart rate regulatory) conditions, including but not limited to heart disease, heart murmurs, and POTS
  • Endurance disorders, including but not limited to chronic fatigue syndrome and ME
  • Nerve pain disorders, including but not limited to fibromyalgia and neuropathies
  • Progressive neurologic disorders, including but not limited to Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia, or Alzheimer’s
  • Cognitive and developmental disorders, including but not limited to Down’s syndrome and PDD
  • Mental health needs, including but not limited to generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and OCD
  • Sensory processing disorders, including but not limited to ADD, ADHD, and ASD

No proof of need or pre-registration is required to access the standard accommodations through Accessibility Services. Members who have questions about their specific needs are encouraged to read the information below and email Accessibility Services before the convention to get more information.

Onsite accommodation plans

Badge labels

To help disabled members advocate for access without having to reveal their needs, the Access Services team uses small badge labels. These fit on the back of the badge and list only the type of seating that a member requires. This is to allow disabled members to choose when and how much they reveal about their needs. Examples of badge names are below.

  • Seat in Line/End of Row
  • Wheelchair/End of Row
  • Sensory/Exit Row
  • Service Animal/Exit Row
  • Proximity to Audio Speaker
  • Front Three Rows Seating
  • ASL Interpreter Needed
Wheelchair/scooter rental

We plan to offer scooters, manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and powerchairs for a rental fee to members who cannot or prefer not to travel with their own equipment. We are currently sourcing providers for this.  This section will be updated once final plans are made. If you would like to be put on the list for more information, please email Accessibility Services with details on the type of device you would like to rent.

Sign language interpreters and CART services

We are currently working on finding providers and making plans for both services. To help us estimate demand, please email Accessibility Services if you or someone in your group would need to use either service. Please let us know which service and how many people in your email.

If you are a certified ASL interpreter, CART provider, or interpreter or provider in training and would like to apply to work at the event, please email Accessibility Services with your name, credentials, dates of availability, and hourly rate.

Service animals

In compliance with ADA law, dogs and miniature horses that are trained to perform a task or set of tasks that aid a disabled member are welcome at the convention. There is no qualifying list of tasks, but simply providing companionship is not a task-trained behavior. Animals that simply provide companionship or comfort, including emotional support animals (ESAs) and pets, are not allowed in any convention space. This is to protect working service animals and their handlers from any potential distractions or accidents.

Service animals in training are not permitted at the convention. All service animals must be fully trained prior to the start of the convention. This ensures the safety of all attending animals, as well as that of their handlers. Vests, leash ID tags, and proof of training or certification are not required to be worn, but these items are encouraged as they may help discourage petting or distraction attempts by other humans.

Illinois law requires a current rabies vaccination for all dogs over the age of 4 months. Proof of rabies vaccination is required by the convention and can be submitted by email or shown onsite at registration. It is strongly encouraged that all service dogs be current on all other vaccinations, including DHPP/DHLPP, kennel cough, and canine influenza. It is common for there to be multiple service animals at the convention. All service animals must be able to safely coexist with other service animals in all common spaces.

All service animals must always be under the handler’s control. Service animals that are aggressive, causing a distraction to other working animals, or unable to be controlled by their handler may be removed from the event. If a service animal is removed from the convention, Chicon 8 staff will work with the handler to determine what additional accommodations can be provided to allow the handler to continue to attend the event without their service animal.

ESAs and pets found at the convention will be removed from convention space to protect the access of service animals and their handlers. Additional accommodations may be offered upon the denial or removal of an ESA or pet if necessary to allow the owner to attend. Memberships are not refundable for those who choose to violate the service animal policy and bring in a pet or ESA.

To help with identification and accommodation planning, Access staff will maintain a voluntary registry of attending service animals at the convention. If you would like to sign up in advance, you may email Accessibility Services. You may also choose to sign up onsite at the Access Services table.

All questions about service animals should be sent to Accessibility Services in advance of the event.

Panels and programming events

In all general panel rooms, there will be reserved seating for disabled members. This seating may take multiple forms: seating in the front three rows for line of sight, wheelchair and scooter cutouts along aisles, end of row seating for easy access to exits or to meet sensory needs, and aisle seating for service animals. A limited number of footstools may also be available for members who require them. Footstools should be checked out from and returned to access staff in each panel area. Please do not take the footstools from any panel area.

All seating is given on a first-come, first-serve basis. For smaller panels, seating is self-selected. Members are asked to take the seat which best fits their needs, and to reserve front row and proximity seating for those with visual or hearing needs. Access team members will be present in panel room areas to assist with any problems but will not be seating individual panels.

For larger events, including the Hugo Awards Ceremony and Masquerade, there will be a separate line for disabled members who wish to attend. This line will be seated first. Members will be seated according to their needs. In many cases, this means an end of row seat. The first row available to audience members (which may not be the actual front row) and proximity seating will be reserved for those whose needs require it. The actual front row at these events is reserved for finalists or entrants. Members who need an accessible seat should plan to arrive early. Once general seating begins, accessible seats cannot be guaranteed.

Tranquility Base (quieter/low sensory space)

As a service to all attendees, Worldcon will provide a quiet space at the convention. This is an area away from the main convention floor that provides a private place to rest, recharge, and take care of medical needs. This room is open to all members during convention hours. Members may bring one (1) companion into the room with them if required.

Attendees using the Tranquility Base are expected to follow all posted rules at all times. Attendees who do not follow the rules will be asked to leave the room. These rules include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Remain awake in the room. Sleeping is not allowed to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Keep food and drinks put away. This protects those with allergies. Access team members will be able to direct you to quieter places for eating and drinking.
  • Wear headphones when listening to music or using mobile devices. This helps you and everyone else be able to calm and re-ground themselves without distractions.
  • Cameras and microphones of all kinds must remain off. No photos (including selfies), videos, or audio recordings can be taken in this space at any time. This is a room of privacy. Please respect everyone’s privacy by not recording while in the room.
  • As in other convention spaces, the Code of Conduct applies in the Tranquility Base. Respect personal space & boundaries. Repeatedly violating personal space & boundaries will result in you being removed from the room.
  • Keep your conversations to a low volume. We encourage you to talk with other members if you feel comfortable, but please keep your voices low. If you need to have a louder or longer conversation, access team members will be able to direct you to a better place.

These rules are intended to preserve the calming and quiet nature of the space. Access team members will be present to help with any questions or needs. If you have any questions about the use of the quiet room prior to the convention, please email Accessibility Services.

Other needs

Chicon 8 recognizes that there are other needs that do not fall under the disability or access need purview, but which may still need special consideration. If an attendee’s needs do not qualify them for assistance through the Accessibility Services program, team members will still work with that attendee to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Attendees without a disability or access need are asked to remember that in most cases, the needs of an attendee with a disability or access need are provided for by law and will take precedence.

Chicon 8 strives to provide a safe, secure, and welcoming experience for all attendees. At all times during operating hours, the  Chicon 8 Code of Conduct is in effect and applies to all attendees.