Drafting a Noisebridge Accessibility Policy

Based on the discussion at the Tuesday 2020-06-30 meeting and in the thread related to the ADA Disability Consensus Items thread, I’m hereby starting a new thread to discuss the drafting of a Noisebridge Disability Accessibility Policy.

Let’s collect input for a Noisebridge accessibility policy in line with our anti-harassment policy, starting with remote access (balanced against privacy) and accessibility information visibility (balanced against bureaucracy).

Please share any suggestions for language that you feel concisely captures mutual inclusivity. I ask that everyone please refrain from language that would address one of either set to the exclusion of the other.

In my view, this should be a document that describes what being excellent to disabled community members means, and what we are committed to doing to make Noisebridge an inclusive, welcoming, accessible community. Personally, this is what I’ll be emphasizing as I work to contribute to this process.


From the Anti-Harassment policy I find this bit pretty interesting: "People violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the space or the event at the discretion of any Noisebridge community participant."

I usually hear this called the "ask to leave" policy. The way it’s usually described is “if you feel harassed you can ask that person to leave” usually followed by “people at Noisebrige will help if you feel uncomfortable”.

I think that we should try to embed a similar sentiment here. "If a disability prevents your access to the space or activities within, it is the responsibility of others at Noisebridge to help"
Issues like: clearing barriers, keeping pathways clear, making top floor activities available on bottom floor, etc.


I like that. It makes it clear that we take collective responsibility for making (and keeping!) the space and activities within the space accessible.

Hi @Zach, @Rikke, @themanmaran-

Good discussion. Been lurking long enough, so to catch up with some thoughts I’ve had…

When introducing visitors to NB, we tend to make them aware of several key principles:

  • The One Rule: Be Excellent To Each Other
  • Do-ocracy: if you see something that needs doing, do it
    • Subtenet: when making changes, do a consensus reality check: does it require small-c or Big-C consensus?
  • Anti-Harassment Policy: the anti-harassment pol posted everywhere (and how to reach out for help, #space-guardians)

Let’s add a fourth principle: Noisebridge must always be accessible.

We’ve all witnessed Zach, Alex and others being blocked from moving about 2169, pre-elevator-kaput, over and over again.

For accessibility to work continuously, we’ve got to elevate awareness of it to the same level as the existing core principles. It’s got to be on everybody’s lips and minds. Let’s give it enough momentum that it continues moving forward in everybody’s minds.

Accessibility won’t work if we delegate it to do-ocracy or being excellent, or a policy posted on a wall someplace, not in my opinion. (Few actually take the time to read the anti-harassment policy, fewer still are conversant about it.)

The end result of this process is for every Noisebridger to become an agent of accessibility. If you see blockage, clear it up. If somebody parks their project, bike or donation in a passageway, ask them to move it, or move it yourself. Remind fellow NBers when their actions block accessibility.

The world is ableist. Let’s change that for good inside NB.

In retrospect, Hackitorium’s layout seemed thoughtless about mobility device users. I remember Zach driving round and round the tables, at various times, to educate people that there needed to be room for chair users. We need to incorporate that awareness when laying out rooms in the new space.

With a ground-floor entrance, we should be expecting (and welcoming) more of our fellow hackers who use devices to get about. Let’s make the space an always-safe place for them, starting on day 0.

I also support making accessibility a consensus item, because every action we can take to improve visibility will help cement it in all our minds.



While we draft language and think about content, here’s a set of guidelines from the University of Washington about designing makerspaces for accessibility, as well as an in-depth article from the same people.

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I think we should separate the discussions about values/intent and application/action and propose that we draft two separate documents regarding accessibility at Noisebridge. I also propose that we officially consense on our shared commitment to improving accessibility on a timeline that’ll give us time to implement things in the new space.


I have some thoughts on how to approach the accessibility improvement process and have tried to write up my suggestions for how to move forward. I’d be very curious to get input from other parties before bringing this up at the upcoming meeting on Tuesday. In particular, it’d be good to know what you think, @Zach @pyconaut @themanmaran @elimisteve @mister_nobody @David

Consensus proposal:

  • Draft an accessibility statement to be posted on the website and in the physical space, clearly stating our commitment to making and keeping Noisebridge accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Based on the values laid out in the statement, draft an accessibility policy for Noisebridge that includes provisions to ensure continued video/audio attendance options, permanent access info signage on the website and in the physical space, design guidelines for the new space, physical installations and upgrades, etc.
  • Commit to a timeline for completion that allows us to complete any physical upgrades to the new space before we open it up for activities other than moving. Suggested timeline: document drafts to be completed by mid-August 2020 and reviewed by end of August.
  • Any items outlined in the policy that require further discussion and consensus (e.g. capital expenditures) should be brought up by mid-September so they can be consensed upon by end of September.

Why two documents?

Because they will serve two different purposes:

The statement would spell out why we think accessibility is important and should clearly outline our shared commitment to making and keeping Noisebridge accessible. It is important because it will help us define what we are trying to accomplish. This document should be prominently displayed on the website and in the physical space, and could include both broader value statements and more concrete language codifying the Noisebridge standard of excellence for inclusion of people with disabilities; examples could be phrases like “we value the contributions of disabled participants to the Noisebridge community” and “if a disability prevents your access to the space or activities within, [we consider it] the responsibility of others at Noisebridge to help”.

The policy would specify how to make and keep Noisebridge accessible and should provide clear guidelines for practical implementation of accessibility measures. This is important because without concrete actions and physical implementation, it’s all just so much talk. The document should (probably?) live in a wiki and could include details like suggested best practice for facilitating remote meetings access without violating anybody’s privacy; accessibility upgrades or demarcations in the physical new space; placing tools, furniture, whiteboards etc., with wheelchair users in mind.

The opportunity:

In support of the point raised here by @mister_nobody, I think there’s a huge opportunity available to us in the new space. Having watched both up close and from afar as the elevator debacle at 2169 Mission St. has unfolded over the past decade, it seems to me that with the coming move to 272 Capp St., we have a historic opportunity to create a much more inclusive and diverse home for ourselves than has previously been possible. I would like to advocate for designing accessibility into the new space from the outset; have it be a key consideration in the choices we make as we place tools, install appliances, hang whiteboards, etc.; and use this as a chance, too, to examine and re-evaluate our practices – can we make changes to the way we do things that would be more inclusive? How can we make Noisebridge activities more accessible for people with disabilities and thereby more enriching for everyone? Are there investments we can make to make participation more equitable?



I support Rikke’s efforts here. I’m a little too beaten down by the events and things said here these past weeks to be able to participate more (I know people want me to).

Rikke and others understand well what I’m asking, so hopefully her words will be heard and Noisebridge can welcome disabled people like me and include those of us without able bodies who wish to contribute.

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Please count me in for drafting the policy.

I put some words in Tyler’s mouth to hand to this reporter about ADA compliance. I would like to see these values being upheld.

I will def be making a micro-center(possibly a well stocked workbench.) on the first floor for electronics so that it is accessible for everyone on the very first day of NBN (Noisebridge New) where everything else is going to go we’ll figure it out.

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How do you get past the article limits?

captured it here:

2020-07-07-sf-chronicle-capture.pdf (1.5 MB)

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I ask that you please stay out of the drafting group for this policy.

You have shown multiple unexcellent behaviors in the past around accessibility, have said some very hurtful things to me, and I do not trust your judgement here.

I for one, do not want your input on this and hope you can respectfully abstain from the process.

Works for me!

By the way, I consider your words here to be unsubstantiated slander, and if you’re serious about what you say, you should consider asking someone for mediation.

Anyway, good luck on the policy. I’ll do my best to encourage its rapid adoption once it materializes.

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i want to help. i feel intimidated. :frowning:


Thank you for being brave enough to step up anyway! I can’t begin tell you how much it means to have others stepping up.

Is there anything I can do to help make you feel less intimidated?

well… how about i try my hand at writing the statement. here is my attempt. hope it helps :slight_smile:

Accessibility Policy

Noisebridge is dedicated to providing an accessible and equally boundary-free experience, regardless of any physical or mental constraints. We consider accessibility and ADA-compliance for people at our events and space to be of the utmost importance in encouraging education, creativity and equal access for all.

In addition, we ask users of Noisebridge to keep in mind the relative social significance of privacy activism in the United States today. The nature of privacy may limit specific access on a case-by-case basis, but never for the sake of simple inconvenience or as an excuse to limit accessibility for those who are otherwise unable to participate at Noisebridge.

Different users of Noisebridge have different levels of access to the space and events. We acknowledge that both ableism and disability awareness is not enough to provide and maintain accessibility at Noisebridge.

When you are running an event or presentation at Noisebridge, provide reasonable notice and warning to allow others the opportunity to participate if they wish. With this — as anything else — each person has a responsibility to be considerate of the accessibility levels of others. Participation, projects, and events should strive to exist in a culture of equal access.

Noisebridge shall be as open and accessible as possible.

EDIT: I see that you just posted a suggested statement. AWESOME! Lets see how it lines up with yours and others’ answers to these questions! I suggest everyone take a stab at answering these foundational questions I posed here.

I imagine you are not the only one who feels intimidated, however I can only speculate. Thanks for raising your voice in this small way.

I’ll offer a suggestion as to how to kick it off: we’ll start a dialogue. Here goes:

How do you (yes, you) perceive Noisebridge’s current state of ‘accessibility’? Tell us some things that you see happening or not happening “right now” (recognizing, of course, our current status as ‘closed’). What kinds of things do you wish would change? What kinds of things do you think we’ve been doing correctly? Is there enough transparency about the whole matter in your view, or are some things opaque to you?

Hi, and welcome to discuss!
Thanks for taking a stab at this, it takes some courage with all the weight being put on this item. I appreciate it!

I dont personally disagree with the statement here, but I am worried it doesnt offer tangible solutions to the primary access problems Noisebridge has.

To say “we care about access, it’s important” without any concrete steps or policies to enforce / promote / secure that access is exactly where NB has been stuck at for many years.

The one tangible thing I see here is providing advanced notice for classes, which is helpful to some I imagine, though not really a primary access issue Ive raised or heard others raise.

Im hoping we can use some language here and incorporate tangible improvements. Otherwise we will just have something like a PR announcement, lacking in substance for change. It may even hurt more than help (the disabled community experiences this challenge a lot with politicians and legal departments).

I love your enegy and thoughtfulness here, and I for one am open to using some of this language.

If anyone working on the draft would be open to sharing if they have a disability or close loved one with disability, that would be most awesome too, I think. Just a suggestion.

@Mark, thank you so much for the thoughtful questions - I think these will be a great way to kickstart more conversations about accessibility, and hopefully help to build broad agreement regarding the content of our accessibility policy.

@1mma, I really appreciate the effort, I think this is an excellent starting point for further discussion. I echo what @Zach said about wanting to include concrete, tangible solutions, especially with respect to remote meeting access, in a way that also addresses the previously raised concerns around privacy.

I feel like I owe everyone an apology for not having come out with any proposed language or drafts yet. For whatever reason, I’m experiencing a substantial mental block around this, and just can’t seem to produce any meaningful text on the subject. I’ll be away for the better part of the next week (starting Wed) and hope I’ll be able to come back to this with more collection and clarity than I’ve been able to muster thus far.

@Zach, I’m comfortable sharing that my best friend through several decades was severely disabled by psoriatic arthritis. We lived together for several years, and remained extremely close until he died of a heart attack last year.