Today (05/09/15) was a really fun day except for an outrageous case of discrimination at Philly Wizard World. I hope to resolve it without a ton of fuss, but if they don’t do the right thing tomorrow you may be seeing this on the news.
They literally kicked me out of the convention center for not providing proof of my disability, because I was using a mobility scooter. I have been attending comic cons for many years. I am permanently disabled. I use an electric mobility scooter because I have severe pain and damage all over my body which makes it difficult to walk and stand for long periods of time. This damage is not visible to a casual onlooker, which is why I feel that I was targeted by the security team at the convention center today. The Wizard World staff was apologetic but in the end it was the Pennsylvania Convention Center security (NOT Wizard World staff) who hounded me and said that if I returned to the con on Sunday that I would be removed.
In case you were unaware, it is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act to demand proof of disability from a disabled person in a situation like this. To refuse them entry to an event of this nature on the basis of their disability is also illegal. I have written proof of my disability but it was at home, because no one is allowed to demand that I produce it. I have only ever needed to use it as proof of income when renting a new apartment.
I tried to explain why I needed the scooter but they would not listen. Because my disability is invisible, and I don’t ‘look’ the way they expect a disabled person to look, they refused to believe me. They followed me to the door and made sure I had left. I looked for a supervisor to speak with and was again told the same story, that I could not enter the con without proof of disability, unless I wished to use a manual wheelchair, or PAY TO RENT ONE OF THEIR ELECTRIC SCOOTERS. Why would I want to do that when I already have one???
At this point I gave up and went in a different door, where I managed to find 2 very helpful Wizard World staff members, who agreed that what was happening was very wrong. They escorted me back into the convention hall and said that if I had any further problems that I should find them and let them handle it. I didn’t run into any more issues until I was already leaving and was yelled at again by the same security guards who said that I shouldn’t be in there and that I would be removed if I returned.
I don’t want to be scared to go to a con because I’ll be yelled at for not proving I’m ‘disabled enough’ to use my mobility aid. I don’t want to stay home and miss seeing friends who flew thousands of miles to be here. I don’t want to have to justify my existence to these people, but I also don’t want to give up. I really don’t understand why they are doing this, or what they hope to accomplish by discriminating against disabled people. The law is supposed to protect us from situations like this. I will return to the con tomorrow with a print out of the Americans with Disabilities Act and hopefully some friends to stand with me.