Access Recommendations for in person Bicons.
Whilst no venue can ever be 100% accessible, there are a number of
considerations that should be made before considering a venue as suitable for
a bicon. National Accessible Scheme – If a venue is part of this scheme that’s
a big bonus and saves a lot of additional work.
At the very least, the venue, including accommodation, should be completely
accessible, meaning that each building, floor and room is accessible for those
with limited mobility and wheelchairs or similar aids. This includes being able
to see friends in accommodation, so all accommodation must have lift access.
Remember not everyone will claim what they need, so just cause someone is
in a normal room/flat, doesn’t mean they can do 3 flights of stairs!
Having the accommodation close to the lecture rooms is also beneficial. In
previous bicons with distance between the accommodation and lecture rooms,
this left non-drivers at a serious disadvantage as the taxi drivers did not
understand the campus and were slow to arrive. Unless the venue has a well
established shuttle facility, the accommodation must be a reasonable walking
distance to the lecture rooms.
If there are not a lot of accessible rooms please be honest about this in the
booking process and source suitable accessible off site accommodation.
Make sure the access lead is sensitive and experienced. Do not ask ‘do you
really need that’ or ask for proof of medical conditions.
If someone needs a piece of equipment i.e. a perch stool to make their stay
better, please provide this. In past Bicons I was aware this equipment would
not be insured, but felt the emphasis placed on this was ridiculous and
Allowing friends to stay together is incredibly important, please consider this
when assigning rooms. Carers often have health needs themselves,
particularly the Mental Health variety.
Make sure all bedroom types are inspected to check for things like cramped
designs, tiny beds etc.
In the accessible rooms check the red cords are hanging to the floor and
working. Accommodation teams don’t always take this too seriously, remind
them they work for us.
In any venue, a video (with captions and audio descriptions) showing the
journey from accommodation to central points on campus is a really useful
guide for people with a variety of access needs. Include a map with the
● Toilets inc changing places
● Quiet room.
● Chill room/craft space.
● Inaccessible routes
● Accessible routes
● Sessions rooms
Cover the gendered toilet signs
Do not let the quiet room and craft/chill space merge, they are two very
Make sure the plenary and safe spaces are accessible. Even if they are
accessible, make sure they are big enough (I once went to a dangerously full
disabled safe space) and make sure the access is suitable for large numbers
i.e. will there be long queues for lifts or entrances
The Bi community is known to be vulnerable, giving Bicon a duty of care.
Bicon has a right to compile a list of known abusers and problematic
community members and if a member wants to know if their abuser is on this
list they are allowed to know. Duty of care comes before confidentiality, but the
list must be stored in accordance with GDPR. This should be alongside other
equality and diversity policy and treated with the same importance.
Guide written in 2019
Being Disabled at Bicon.
As a Bi+ community, we are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, musculoskeletal
problems and identify as neurodiverse. If you are able bodied/minded and wondering why there
is so much accessibility discussion ahead of Bicon, this is why. If you are disabled or chronically
ill and new to Bicon, then this handy guide is for you. To start I will have to take you all the way
My first Bicon I was in the unenviable position of being recently diagnosed and trying to process
the idea that I wasn’t just a part-time spoonie anymore. If the mention of spoons has confused
you, please check out the spoon theory, I find it a useful tool and there will be much talk of
spoons at Bicon. At my second Bicon I was a fully fledged disability queer! That’s my label to
use and I own it. I even had my wonderfully queer-ly decorated mobility aid (his/their name is
Wally) and I was lucky enough to be in an accessible room. I was in the gang. Between my first
and second Bicon I had a lot of support, including pain management focused therapy, but I
definitely feel that Bicon and the Bi+ community as a whole has played an important part in
accepting my disabled self.
The first thing that Bicon offers to us spoonies is a sense of community. I think everyone has a
moment at Bicon where they stare at a room full of fellow bis and just think “wow, everyone here
is super Bi”! In addition to that, those of us with multiple intersections such as being disabled
and bi, can find others who know exactly what you’re going through. It’s such a relief to spend
time with people who also use mobility aids and not be a different generation to you. It’s a relief
to speak to people from a different generation who don’t ask the stupid questions you get at
home. It’s a joy to be in a place where medical advice is always warranted, where tips and tricks
on how to get the right diagnosis are being shared out of kindness, not out of a misguided need
to cure you. Where you can joke about how being bi, autistic and hypermobile are
co-morbidities and most of the people in the room nod knowingly. In short, you don’t feel so
alone. I know I didn’t.
The only thing I’d watch out for is having the same conversations too much. We all need a rant
about shitty doctors, accessibility, the DWP, the Tories and ‘the ableds’ now and again, but I did
find myself struggling not to focus on it too much, particularly with the wealth of new spoonie bis
at my disposal (ahem). How much you want to focus on this at Bicon is up to you, but if you’re
starting to feel worse than when you started the conversation, it’s probably time to change the
subject. Good alternative topics include glitter, how to get purple hair dye, how cheap the drinks
in the bar are or when/where the clothes swap is. Alternatively, just shout “SQUIRREL” and run
There are a number of disability related sessions you may want to go to. Here are my
New Bis: I was lucky enough to go to my first Bicon with friends (thanks Brum Bi Group) but a lot
of people met their forever besties at the introductory session. ‘Fun and games’ and ‘Fitting and
misfitting’ all take place on the first session on Friday and include ice breakers and
Sex and Disability: I went to this session run by Ollie in my first year. This year Claire M is
running ‘Do my wheels look big in this” which will cover similar themes. As someone who’d just
started experiencing mobility loss in their arms and was generally completely out of touch with
their body, I really needed this one. It’s one thing to know that disabled people can, and do,
have sex, it’s another to really believe it. The offering of kind, practical and often intriguing
advice was exactly what I needed and a great kick start to this part of my self-acceptance
Body Positivity: Disability affects the way we look, and many of us, myself included, find the
combination of limited mobility and medication side effects can cause significant weight gain.
Others lose weight with their illness, some look ‘healthy’ which causes its own set of problems
and others find their mental health has a major impact on their self-image. As bi+ and/or gender
diverse people, the ability to love the way you look isn’t easy, and as a disabled person, it can
feel quite radical. I went to ‘Fatticorns Unite’ last year, which is an excellent title. Whilst there
was a smidgeon of body positivity theory, most of the session consisted of building each other
up, sharing stories and good places to get ‘plus size’ clothes. I still have the note on my phone
simply stating ‘there is no moral imperative to be thin’. In a similar vein, there is no moral
imperative to be healthy, able bodied or neurotypical and sessions like these are a great way to
Naked Lunch: So bear with me here. I know not everyone will see the link between being
disabled and getting your kit off, but as stated above, body acceptance has been so important in
my journey as a disabled person and I don’t think I’m the only one. My first naked lunch I stayed
for about 10 minutes and went with a conventionally attractive friend who was used to a bit of
naturism. I kept my long skirt on because I still had the idea that my stomach was somehow
ugly. Over time I’m happy to say that normalising the naked body in all its glory has become
something of a happy past-time. Give it a go, or at least think about it.
Do something fun: There are so many fun things to try at Bicon that don’t involve taking your
clothes off. The craft space is always open with enough options for those of us with
compromised fine motor skills. There are fandom sessions, music sessions, improv and general
silliness abounds. I can recommend the Bicon singalong, although I am running it so happily
accept there’s some bias there.
Despite all of these marvellous sessions, don’t forget the most important rule.
Don’t wear yourself out!
Don’t go to every session!
Take your meds!
OK taking your meds has nothing to do with sessions, but it’s important so I can’t say it enough.
Take your meds! And see you at Bicon.
Music Therapist &
Deputy Chair of Brum Bi Group