Conduct Policy

Updated May 2, 2014 In addition to complying with the Harassment Policy guidelines, Skepticon Attendees are expected to comply with the following Code of Conduct at all conference events. We define misconduct as deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, disruptive arguments anywhere at the conference, personal verbal attacks, fights, physical assault, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, and any other act that may cause harm to oneself or others. Assuming the absence of problematic behavior (intimidation, following, inappropriate physical contact, etc.), criticism or disagreement regarding an attendee’s belief structure will not be construed as harassment. Our conference thrives on its diversity, which includes but is not limited to: sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, ability, beliefs, et cetera. Blatant instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, or other stereotyping and harmful behaviors should be reported to conference staff immediately. “Yes” means yes; “No” means no; and “Maybe” means no. Please accept no for an answer for any request or activity. You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders—and hugs (ask first!). There are people who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space. Participants asked to stop any form of misconduct are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without refunds) at the discretion of the conference organizers. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff can be identified by special badges or be found at the registration/event desk. Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing misconduct to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

Harassment Policy

Updated October 1, 2012 Skepticon is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments [related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religious identity], deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Assuming the absence of problematic behavior (intimidation, following, inappropriate physical contact, etc.), criticism or disagreement regarding an attendee’s belief structure will not be construed as harassment. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Additionally, exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment. While Skepticon does encourage an environment of sex positivity where sex and sexuality are discussed, we will make every effort to make our convention attendees as comfortable as possible. If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund of any donations. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Skepticon also encourages attendees to report any criminal behavior directly to the Springfield Police, as well as to Skepticon staff. Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

Universal Design: Disability Access at Skepticon

Updated October 22, 2015 The Disability Inclusion Services offered by Skepticon are informed by universal design and disability rights activism. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities, by making schedules, communications, and the physical environment usable by as many people as possible. We strive to create an event that works for members in all our physical and mental variety. We must balance that goal against limited fiscal resources, the paradox that sometimes one member’s accommodation is another member’s barrier, and an entirely volunteer work force. We always welcome discussion exploring how we can better accommodate our members. Feel free to contact us at anytime with inquiries or concerns at: [email protected], we want to work with you! Here is our venue’s very own accessibility brochure for your reference.

Allies: How Every Member Contributes to an Accessible Con

Updated October 22, 2015 We all learn contradictory messages about people with disabilities. Disabled people are the archetypal “other”: the fate-worse-than-death, the sainted and spiritual, the cursed and amoral, the sub-human, the super-human, the sexless and the over-sexed. These conflicting stereotypes support a weird stew of fear and fascination. All members create a universally accessible con by paying attention to our own behavior and attitudes. Beneficial behaviors Panels/Presentations:

  • Keep your lips visible for those who speechread.
  • Use a microphone if one is available (even if you have vocal training) so all can hear
  • If using Powerpoint or other presentation software, review these techniques for making accessible presentations
  • Use high color contrast for text in presentations or handouts. Low contrast may be difficult or impossible for colorblind or low vision users to read.
  • Caption any video/audio content.
  • Describe any images/charts you are using, for the benefit of blind or low vision members (general descriptions are fine; describe any relevant details).
  • If you are using paper handouts, electronic versions help people who want enlarged text or who use screen reading software.
  • Animations or other video content (particularly with rapid flashing/strobing) may be migraine/seizure triggers for some. Let people know if you will be using them.

Elevators – convenience vs. necessity. If you can use the stairways to move between program floors, please do! If you can only travel down, that still makes an important difference. There are many levels to the convention center that we use for Skepticon, and some of us absolutely depend on the elevators just to access the con. The reason might not be visible (arthritic knees or limited breathing); or might be obvious (wheelchair or canes) — but the need is still there. Maintain clear paths. Skepticon provides fantastic opportunities to talk, but clogged doorways and hallways make navigation time-consuming for all, and impossible for some of us. Tuck your belongings in front of your feet or under your seat. Remind members gathered in doorways or hallways of the need to share the limited space so all of us can move freely. Skepticon will enforce a “Traffic Friendly Hallway’ system where we will divide the main walkways between the workshop rooms, vendor tables, and main stage speakers into two: one lane for moving/waking and and another for standing/stopping. Share the air: Smoke and scents travel quickly, and air won’t move if you ask it to. Washing your hands after smoking makes a difference. We ask that you limit your use of scented products if you can do so without negatively affecting your health. For those of us with asthma, migraine, and chemical sensitivities, fewer fragrances, vapors, and particulates make the con a place we can attend. Some of us smoke, and some of us don’t. Our venue is completely non-smoking, and we ask that you utilize the designated smoking areas outdoors. Skepticon is not, however, a fragrance-free con. Spread the word.Universal Design simplifies life by making products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. Skepticon is delighted to discuss how you can incorporate universal design into your conventions, buildings, instruction, publishing and lives: contact us now via [email protected] or in person at the con. Service Animal Etiquette: Although interacting with animals is tempting, please don’t pet, distract, or take photos of service animals at Skepticon. Those of us who rely on service animals need our animals to be able to concentrate on doing their jobs well. We would also like to talk to you about his noodly appendage, dinosaurs, gelato or other topics, rather than our service animal. Helpful Attitudes Offer help — don’t assume it’s needed. Most of us are taught to “help the handicapped,” but not “does this person want or need help?” If you think someone needs assistance, just ask. If they say yes, don’t make assumptions; instead listen to the details of what the person with disabilities wants. If they say “no thanks” don’t be offended. What might look overly complicated or inefficient can be what that disabled person finds works best. Speak up! You don’t need to have a disability to advocate for access. If you see barriers, feel free to suggest how to clear them — whether this means talking respectfully to other members, alerting the hotel/convention center or one of the Skepticon volunteers. Don’t assume people with disabilities want or need fixing. Members with disabilities are here for the same reasons non-disabled members are: community, skepticism, dinosaurs, prom. Talking about an interesting new book, super cool documentary you’ve recently seen, or a new podcasting tool you discovered, are much better conversation starters than “my nephew cured his fibromyalgia with a yak-milk diet” or “Don’t they have a wonderful new medicine for that?” or “Why take drugs when you just need a positive mental attitude and yoga?” Privacy: People are often curious about the details of a visible disability. A member’s medical history and details of how their body functions is private. Please do not ask how someone became disabled or assume their experience is the same as another person with a similar disability. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email us anytime at [email protected]-we want to work with you!

Minimizing Stress and Maximizing Comfort

Updated October 22, 2015 The weather both inside and out varies a lot. Bring layers to add in chilly program rooms, subtract in hot ones, and ensure you’re comfortable in the wide range of weather both inside and outside the hotels. It’s Missouri in November-the weather fluctuates! Skepticon is an awesome, entertaining, and often dino-tastic environment. Finding stimulation is easy: here are options for managing stress and sensory overload: We’ve created the Quiet Room for those of us who need a break during the con. You can find it in the “Sonoran” room of the Venue. It’s a good place to catch your breath, listen to your heartbeat, ruminate, and contemplate. The Quiet Room works when we respect its boundaries: please, no talking within. If there’s someone waiting for a space, yield yours after 30 minutes. Breastfeeding mothers are welcome in the Quiet Room. The calmest programming is our main stage speakers; sit back and listen to our presenters share their awesomeness. Avoiding claustrophobia requires time as well as space management. Nearly 1500 members will be moving about the venue about every 50 minutes during the day. Some people find it easier to attend every other programming item, using the time between to rest up, eat, or check out the Vendor Tables, Nerf Booth, or Pool. However, the hallway where the vendor tables are located as well as the nerf room are often packed during the handful of unprogrammed hours in the con. The hotel restaurant and Food Trucks we bring in during mealtimes will be packed or have lines. This also goes for the free continental breakfast that is offered by the hotel in the mornings. Our Prom starts promptly at 9pm on Saturday night, but does not allow guests in beforehand, so a line often forms. Arriving part way through or a little bit after the Prom starts will allow the crowd to disperse a little.

Color Communication Badges

Updated October 22, 2015 Starting with Skeption 8, we will be utilizing a three color communication system at our convention. The color communication badges we will be using are small, round stickers you can place on the Skepticon badges given at registration. Be sure to place a sticker on the front and the back of your badge in case your lanyard flips over. If you decide to use the sticker system, all stickers must be placed on your badge so that others can easily find and identify your preference. Not all of our attendees are required to actively participate, but are required to respect the boundaries and choices of those who do. Please be aware of people who are using stickers on their badges and act accordingly. Showing a green sticker means that the person is actively seeking communication; they have trouble initiating conversations, but want to be approached by people who are interested in talking. Showing a yellow sticker means that the person only wants to talk to people they recognize, not by strangers or people they only know from the Internet. The badge-wearer might approach strangers to talk, and that is okay; the approached people are welcome to talk back to them in that case. But unless you have already met the person face-to-face, you should not approach them to talk. Showing a blue sticker means that the person probably does not want to talk to anyone, or only wants to talk to a few people. The person might approach others to talk, and that is okay; the approached people are welcome to talk back to them in that case. But unless you have been told already by the badge-wearer that you are on their “blue list”, you should not approach them to talk. Having no stickers means that person is comfortable verbally confirming their boundaries and social availability. Via Autistic Advocacy: “Color communication badges are a good aid because they allow people to express their current communication preference quickly, nonverbally, and simply – people can change what card is showing if their preference changes. They are a good way to prevent situations where someone is caught in a social situation they do not want to be in, or situations where someone wants to talk but can’t initiate. This means that communication badges can help make conferences, conventions, meetings, college campuses, and other spaces more accessible. People with communication impairments, people who have trouble expressing their communication preferences, and people who have trouble reading social cues about communication preference, may find color communication badges useful. Color communication badges also help all people, abled or disabled, to more easily and effectively let people know whether they want to be approached for conversations or not. This can creates a positive impact on the social atmosphere where communication badges are being used.” If you have any questions regarding the color communication sticker system, please contact us at [email protected].

Reading, Listening, Eating

Updated October 22, 2015 Reading Skepticon provides information in various formats. Our most important publication is our yearly Program, which is handed to each individual upon registration. In addition to regular print, the Skepticon website hosts PDF and HTML versions as soon as they become available, generally the week before the con. Listening All main stage speakers are required to use a mic. For Skepticon 8, we will be utilizing a live sign language interpreter for our main stage speakers as well as a live closed captioning service that will be projected near the main stage. Eating The Ramada Oasis Hotel and Convention Center has two places to eat: Bella’s Pizzeria and the Fire & Ice Restaurant. Both are open at 11am. You can find their complete menus here:

The hotel offers a free continental breakfasts to its guests. This includes eggs, breakfast meats, muffins, bagels, fresh fruit, waffles, cereal, coffee, juices, and teas. The hotel often accommodates vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diners. Here is a list of local vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Springfield area. Save money by buying food, here are some local grocery stores near the Oasis for you to consider:

  • Wal-Mart Super Center: 1923 E Kearney St, Springfield, MO 65803
  • Aldi: 1645 E Kearney St, Springfield, MO 65803
  • Save-a-lot: 1117 E Commercial St, Springfield, MO 65803
  • Price Cutter: 1901 E Division St, Springfield, MO 65803

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email us anytime at [email protected]-we want to work with you!  

Skepticon without Steps

Updated October 22, 2015 Even if you usually do fine with canes or a walker, standing on tile floors or walking around our admittedly maze-like venue can be hard work when you’re enjoying the con. The Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center has one wheelchair that is provided complimentary to guests on a first come, first served basis. The wheelchair is available only to registered guests of the hotel, restaurant, or convention center. Contact the hotel front desk at (417) 866 -5253 to check availability. Guests who wish to rent a mobility device from a local supply store may call Bach Medical Supply at 417 -883 -1400, or visit their website: Accessible Guestrooms The Ramada Plaza Hotel has accessible guestrooms including the following features :

  • Bathroom doors that open outwards
  • Walk-in or roll-in showers with shower chairs
  • Shower safety bars and bath rails
  • Raised toilet seat with grab bars
  • Lower peep holes on the guestroom doors
  • Emergency procedures for disabled guests
  • Nearby elevator access

If the accessible bathroom is not required, the Ramada Plaza also has guestrooms conveniently located on the first floor close to the hotel entrances and convention space. To reserve a handicap accessible or first floor guestroom, contact the hotel front desk at (417) 866 -5253 and let us know what accommodations are needed upon making your reservation. If you are making your reservation online, please select the “Queen Bed Accessible Room” as the type of room. Pool Accessibility The Ramada Plaza Hotel has a portable lift in the indoor pool and a stationary lift in the outdoor pool. Please let the front desk know if the lift is needed during your stay, and they will ensure the lift is ready to use, as well as provide you with instruction on how to use it the first time. Accessible Paths of Travel The Ramada Plaza Hotel has accessible paths of travel from the hotel lobby to their accessible guestrooms, convention and meeting spaces, and all public areas including the restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, business center, fitness facility, and laundry facility. Please contact their front desk or seek assistance from any of their staff on how to best access these locations. We would like to mention that there is one particular door between the front lobby and pool area where traffic can often bottleneck as only one person can get often through at a time. There is an elevator located in the main lobby to move between floors. You will only need to use this to go to guest rooms as all other activities are hosted on the main level. We would like to remind all of our attendees to use the stairs when that’s possible, and to yield elevator space to those of us who must use the elevators to move around the con. Speak up if you need to use the elevator, especially if you don’t use a visible mobility aid (like a cane, walker, or wheelchair). Parking Complimentary parking spaces for guests with mobility disabilities are available surrounding the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center. Accessible parking spaces are designated as handicap, and a valid disability parking permit is required. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email us anytime at [email protected]-we want to work with you!

Potential Barriers that Remain

Updated October 22, 2015 Given our fiscal limitations, our commitment to our current conference venue, and the reality that sometimes one member’s accommodation is another member’s barrier, we simply cannot make Skepticon perfectly accessible to everyone. We don’t want to make promises we can’t keep. We want you to know about these potential barriers so you can make informed decisions. “No” is not the same message as “we don’t care” or “we don’t believe you” or “we’re comfortable ignoring your needs.” Skepticon has and will continue to wrestle with these issues. Contact [email protected] or our venue (417) 866-5253 at for background on these remaining barriers:

  • Most of the programming rooms are illuminated with fluorescent lighting.
  • Members bring a lot of reading materials in only regular print.
  • Skepticon is not scent-free. For some members, fragrances trigger asthma, migraine, or illness, while some members need to use fragrance to manage pain and mood. Those of us who react to fragrances, dust, and particulates should bring an N95 mask.
  • Most of the toilet facilities are labeled “Men” and “Women,” although humans don’t divide that neatly. Any/every gender is welcome in restrooms in the hallway leading to the main conference room, which will be clearly marked with signage. Feminine hygiene products will be available in these facilities. The restroom doors are floor to ceiling in these facilities.
  • Hotel carpet can make wheeled travel more challenging.
  • Often, no microphones amplify program presenters in our workshops.

Fights & Physical Assault Policy

Updated May 2, 2014 No member of the Skepticon organizational or volunteer team is required to intervene in a fight or to attempt to prevent a physical assault.  There is no legal requirement to put oneself in danger.  There is a good chance that anyone intervening in a fight would be hurt. If anyone chooses to intervene in a physical altercation they will do so at their own risk. Per the Code of Conduct Policy, anyone involved in a physical altercation can be removed from the premises by law enforcement. If law enforcement is engaged to intervene in a fight, it is unlikely that the parties involved will be welcomed at future events.

Medical Emergency Policy

Updated May 2, 2014 If any member of the Skepticon event staff is notified of a medical emergency, the staff will report medical emergencies to the leadership team via radio. Leadership will evaluate the situation.  It isn’t possible to set decision-making criteria in advance since every situation will be unique.  Both the Adult and the Pediatric version of the Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Ready Reference will be maintained on site with easy access. In addition to the Red Cross documents, the following questions will assist in decision making: (a)  How serious is the injury or illness? (b)  Can the victim make decisions on his/her own behalf? (c)  Does the injury/illness require an emergency room visit? (d)  Is an ambulance needed?  Can a friend of the victim transport him/her?

Accidental Injury Policy

Updated May 2, 2014 The Skepticon staff fall under Missouri Law 537.037 RSMo (“Good Samaritan Law”) for purposes of providing first aid.  Any first aid care that the staff provides is being done voluntarily by that staff member.  Pre-registering for attendance at the convention does not include guaranteed first aid. The event staff will have a first aid kit available in the main conference rooms and at the Check-In/Registration Table for self-use by any attendee or persons present at the event.

Weapon Threat and/or Active Shooter Policy

Updated May 2, 2014 Skepticon considers a weapon threat to be an expression of an intention to inflict pain or injury via a weapon such as a knife or gun. We do not have to see a weapon to consider it a threat. If an attendee makes a threat of weapon violence to an organizer, volunteer, attendee, speaker, hotel staff, unrelated guest of the hotel, service worker, random person in the lobby, or any other living being they will not be welcome to return to future Skepticon events. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm[s] and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.” If the threat of weapon violence becomes real violence, ie. there is an active shooter (or someone with another weapon) that is identified, the Skepticon leadership will do the following: 1.  Notify every one of the shooter’s location. 2.  Call 911 and report

  • Location of shooter
  • Number of shooters
  • Physical description of shooter/s
  • Number and type of weapons
  • Number of potential victims

3.  Direct Skepticon event staff member  in each room to identify a room leader.  The room leader is responsible to make decisions and provide guidance for everyone in their area. The room leader will decide whether to evacuate, hide, or take action against the shooter based on the location of the shooter. Evacuate:  Select an evacuation route that takes everyone away from the shooter and out of the building. Everyone will need to leave their belongings behind and move quietly and quickly along the route.  The room leader assigns someone to lead the group out.  The room leader is the last to leave. Hide:  Get into a defensible room and lock or barricade all doors.  Turn out the lights and keep everyone quiet. Take action against shooter:  This is the least preferred option.  Be loud, aggressive and fast.  Commit to the decision and do not hesitate.  Do the greatest possible damage in the least time.

Lost Children Policy

Updated May 2, 2014 While we have never had an issue with this at past events, Skepticon has resolved to be proactive. Please do not leave children unattended on conference grounds. In the unfortunate event that your little skeptic-in-training manages to elude their guardian’s supervision, Skepticon will use a modified version of the national ‘lost child’ procedure. The national ‘lost child’ procedure is called the Code Adam Program. If an individual reports that a child is missing to any member of the Skepticon event staff, that staff member will refer him/her to the Organizers stationed at the Check-In/Registration table. The Organizers will ask for the following information about the child: • Sex • Ethnicity • Age • Eye and hair color • Height • Weight • Clothes worn (including shoes) • Any distinguishing characteristics • Location or area last seen Once this information is obtained, the lead organizer will notify all event staff and volunteers by radio and describe the child’s physical features and clothing.   All staff will look for the child and report back by radio. A negative reply will be required.  If the child is not immediately located by the event staff, the lead organizer will contact hotel security to inform them about the lost child and request that the hotel staff look for the child. When the child is found by one of the event staff, that staff member will report it to the Organizer leader stationed at the Check-In/Registration table.  The Organizer will reunite the child with his/her guardian.  If the child is not found within 10 minutes after notifying hotel staff or if there is anything about the circumstances that suggests an attempted abduction the lead organizer (or hotel staff) will call law enforcement.

Speaker Merchandise Policy

Updated May 8, 2014 If you’re a speaker who is interested in having your books or other merchandise sold by Skepticon Event Staff on your behalf, please read through the following rules. This will ensure that your merchandise will be handled in an efficient method. Sales must be arranged in advance. Speakers who have not paid the $500 table fee are not allowed to bring merchandise the day of SK8 for Skepticon Organizers to sell on their behalf. If a speaker chooses to act as a vendor during times they are not fulfilling their speaking obligations, they may staff it and sell their merchandise at their own discretion. However if a speaker wishes to have Skepticon organizers sell merchandise on their behalf we will handle all sales, have a table staffed at all times during SK8 (to the best of our ability), and will promote their merchandise after the speech via scheduled signings. Skepticon will not buy their books from a publisher in order to be able to sell them at SK8. Skepticon will take a cut or subtract fees in order to offset any costs associated with their sales. Books or other merchandise can be mailed ahead of time to the Skepticon Headquarters. We will send an invoice to the speaker on receipt of the merchandise. If the speaker would like to review the invoice for any discrepancies all changes must be made before the start of SK8. (please allow plenty of time for shipment and mail delivery) Skepticon and it’s organizers are not responsible for any damages incurred in shipping. We will count inventory after SK8 ends and create a second invoice, and the speaker (or responsible entity) is responsible for signing off on the numbers before we will reimburse for sales made. Skepticon will ship the merchandise back to any location/publisher if the speaker (or responsible entity) makes arrangements before the end of the event and pays for costs. (this will be subtracted from the sales unless otherwise arranged) Any merchandise left behind without arrangements for shipping will be considered as a donation to Skepticon. Any funds still left in our possession by 2016 will be considered a donation to Skepticon 9. If these policies are violated, at our discretion we can elect to not sell merchandise on a speaker’s behalf.

Much love and credit goes to the great people at Apostacon and Wiscon for all their help creating these wonderful policies!