Conference Accessibility 2019

The GRCA conference committee recognizes ways that conference has been structurally and physically inaccessible in past years. This conference uses a mix of spaces with varying accessibility. This year, as we work to make to the conference more accessible to everyone, we will try to be transparent about the space and limitations. Our work towards accessibility is a work in progress and we commit to it actively! We are happy to work with you to make sure the workshops, meetings, meals, lodging, and caucuses are in rooms you can access comfortably! Please e-mail with any access needs or concerns you may have.

Physical Access (meeting spaces)

  • The GRCA bus from Girls Rock Philly headquarters to and from Appel Farm in school busses. This often involves waiting in line for a long time and climbing 2 - 4 stairs. The ride is about 60 minutes. Carpools can be arranged for people who can’t comfortably take the bus.

  • Accessible parking is available at the conference site.

  • Meeting spaces at Appel Farm have paved walkways leading up to the entrance.

  • The dining hall (main meeting space) and all workshop spaces are wheelchair accessible.

  • The dining hall is a large room with lots of round tables and chairs. There are often lines at mealtimes.

  • People who are unable to wait in lines will be able to skip the line. All conference attendees will be notified of this policy, and those who need to skip the line can always do so without explanation or by using a “line-cut pass.” You may also ask an Access Action volunteer to get your food for you.

  • There will be walkways cleared of chairs and taped off so that conference participants know not to block them.  If you need help navigating the space, you can always ask a volunteer at the Access Action Table.

  • All meeting space bathrooms (with the exception of the Photo Bathrooms and the Cubicle Suite bathrooms) are wheelchair accessible. They are all multi-stall and will be marked all-gender during the conference. The two most accessible private bathrooms are in bell hooks. The bathrooms in SnP are accessible and can be locked, but are usually shared. Two more private bathrooms are near the workshop rooms (between Aaliyah Big and Marian Anderson).

  • There is very limited private shower use upon request. If you need help locating bathrooms that work for you, you can contact SPC or an Access Action volunteer at the Accessibility table.

  • Workshop spaces are often crowded and occasionally there aren’t enough chairs. We ask that participants give priority to people who need to sit in a chair, and that those who can, sit on the floor.

  • Group activities occasionally involve physical elements (stretches, walks, etc.), which are always optional for all participants.

On-Site Housing

  • The Robyn and Bessie Smith dorms are fully wheelchair accessible. Bessie Smith has a gravel drive with a concrete walkway to the building. There is a tar-top drive that leads to concrete walkways for the Robyn dorms.

  • Dolly Parton facilities are limited. Patrons are welcome to drive directly to the Dolly Parton to unload. Access to the building may be obtained through a rear entrance sidewalk, but patrons often walk across grass to access the building.

  • Dorms are a combination of bunk beds and single beds, with roughly 20 beds per room. Each room has a shared bathroom, with stalls and stall showers. There are no private changing areas beyond the bathroom stall. Each bunk area has one room which has a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.

  • General Housing Dorms are filled first-come first-served. The GRCA offers the option of bunks designated for particular groups, including People of Color, Trans & Gender Non-Conforming People, Quiet, and Quiet and Sober Bunks. Quiet and Quiet and Sober Bunks will both be in the Bessie Smith block. Please indicate ahead of time if you are interested in any of these options.

    • Note that the Dolly Parton bunk is typically loud until late at night, as folks tend to hang out at the picnic tables outside. If you don’t need a strictly quiet bunk, the Beyonce bunk is typically at a “medium” noise level.

Content & Language

  • The general conference content is presented in English. Most workshops will be presented in English. Workshop leaders will be encouraged to have a “Language Checker” in each workshop to make sure language being used is understood by all.

  • Evening social activities do allow for the option of bringing your own alcohol. An alternate sober space will be provided during evening activities. If you’re interested in helping make the sober space a rollicking good time, please email

Red/Yellow/Green Stickers for Nametags

  • We will be using a green/yellow/red color-coded communication system*

  • All attendees will receive their own sheet of stickers at registration (extras will be available at the Accessibility table if you need more).

  • Place stickers on your nametag and switch your color whenever you wish.

  • Green means that a person is actively seeking communication; they have trouble initiating conversations, but want to be approached by people who are interested in talking.

  • Yellow means that a person only wants to talk to people they recognize, not 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.

  • Red means that a 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 “red list,” you should not approach them to talk.

* These systems were first developed by the autism community. Definitions for communication stickers taken from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN).


The GRCA can provide on-site childcare if needed. Please indicate ahead of time that you are interested in bringing a child to the conference, and see below for more information on childcare at the conference.


The Girls Rock Camp Alliance requests that we work to create a low/no scent space at the conference, in order to help those with chemical/scent sensitivity fully participate. Please be mindful of scented items you are bringing into conference and use unscented hair and skin products, deodorant, markers, and do not use perfumes or essential oils. Even natural scents can cause allergies and health issues for members with sensitivities. Each bathroom/shower will be stocked with scent-free soaps and shampoos. For more information on what scent-free means, please check out THIS article by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

Stretch Not Strain

In the spirit of a popular rock camp group agreement, we are asking all of our conference attendees to “stretch not strain.” What we mean by this is - we are asking folks to to stretch themselves to think about the privileges that they have and think about the ways they can make this space accessible and safer for others. That is stretching. However, we also realize folks experience other types of oppression based on race, class, nationality, citizenship, gender, and sexuality. We are not asking folks to strain themselves, to do something that is not accessible for them in other ways, or to feel like they are not welcome in this space because they do not have the privilege to do certain things. Please remember that these are suggestions. If you cannot do something that is ok, AND what are the other changes you can make? What are the ways you can stretch yourself without straining?

We know that this is a process and that we are asking for a number of new things from conference goers, AND we know that the conference has not been a physically accessible space for many years. Let’s continue to do the work, especially folks with various privileges, to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.

Girls Rock Camp Alliance