nolose: the conference for fat lesbians, dykes, bi-women, trans folks, and our queer allies

Newark Airport Marriott
July 15-17, 2005
Newark, NJ

Accessibility and Low-Scent Policy

In our dream world, we would be able to make the conference available to fat women & transfolk of all abilities—for free! Accessibility is an important priority to us. Realistically, our conference is expensive to organize, and facilities are shared, limiting just how accessible we can make it.

Wheelchair Access:

All conference facilities, bathrooms, and hotel rooms are wheelchair-accessible, with ramp access to the pool area. Please check back for more detailed information on local transit!

Gender-neutral Bathrooms:

This year, we are sharing the bathrooms with other events, and are unable to convert the bathrooms near our main meeting rooms to gender-neutral space. I.e., the bathrooms near our main events will be "men" and "women's" rooms. We will be able to offer the use of private bathrooms from our hotel rooms and suites, as inconvenient as this is.

Financial Assistance:

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of a slew of fabulous volunteers, we are able to offer some form of financial assistance, and encourage all who need it to attend to apply. That said, our funds are still limited. Early applicants have the best chance of receiving some form of assistance. We highly encourage folks who can, to pay at a higher level of registration to help us cover the expenses of those who can't.

Low-Scent Policy*:

In order to make the conference accessible to folks with multiple chemical sensitivities/environmental illness, we are asking NOLOSE conference attendees to limit their use of scented products as much as possible.

We will have some unscented products available for use at the conference so if you can, please use these instead of your usual scented items. We do understand that some folks are unable to use these products for various reasons and so we just ask that you reduce what you can in order to make the space as accessible as possible for all. We've included information on how and why to reduce your use of scented products below, and if you have any questions, just ask.

*Please note that this is a change from our former policy of 'scent-free.' After much consideration and after speaking to people who found that there simply aren't good scent-free products available that meet their needs or those folks who rely on aroma therapy for health, we are asking folks to limit their use of scent where they can to try to make this a safer environment.

We cannot guarantee a 'scent-free' environment, as many conference attendees will continue to use scented products, as will other hotel guests, the pool parties take place in pools that are heavily chlorinated, and conference spaces will be cleaned with the regular, scented cleaning products by hotel staff. Although we cannot offer a completely scent-free policy, we at NOLOSE remain committed to making the conference accessible to as many as possible.

The basics:

If you are not accustomed to reducing your use of scented products it is important to think carefully about all the products you use in your day. You can try to reduce your use of scented items like shampoo, soap, hair gel, hair spray, perfume/scented oils, skin lotion, shaving cream, makeup, etc. while at the conference, bring your own unscented products or use fragrance-free alternatives provided at the conference.

Many fragrance-free products can be bought in your local drugstore. For hard-to-find products (especially hair products), check out your local health food store or the NEEDS catalog: If you are unable to find "fragrance-free" at a store, often the hypo-allergenic version of a product is scent-free. Simply read the ingredients on the label and see if the word "fragrance" appears. If not, you're OK. Suggestions for fragrance-free products are at the end of this page.

What will it do for my health, and the health of others, to limit my use of scent?

Reducing your use of scent or going scent free is an important step toward access for people with disabilities. Plus, you may be surprised to find that you feel better as well!

People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (also called Environmental Illness) experience serious and debilitating physical and neurological symptoms when exposed to the chemicals used in most scented products. Often, the damage caused by these chemicals causes an individual to react to other intensely volatile substances, such as essential oils, tobacco smoke, and "natural" fragrances. The process by which we "smell" something actually involves microscopic particles of that substance being absorbed through mucous membranes and entering the nervous system. The intense symptoms associated with chemical sensitivities have led most medical experts to theorize that the disorder is neurologically, not immunologically, based.

Because no government agency regulates the ingredients of household and personal care products, the last several decades have seen a huge increase in the number of harmful chemicals added to these products. Many of these chemicals are banned for use in industrial settings because of their known toxic effects. According to a 1986 U.S. House of Representative study: "Ninety-five percent of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins and sensitizers—capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, and allergic reactions."

Symptoms of chemical exposure include dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, drowsiness, irritation to mouth, throat, skin, eyes, and lungs, headache, seizures, fatigue, confusion, and liver and kidney damage. As you can imagine, these symptoms constitute serious barriers for people with chemical sensitivities in work, life, and of course, conference attendance. Promoting low-scent and scent-free environments is very much like adding ramps and curb-cuts in terms of the profound difference in accessibility it can produce. We appreciate all participants in the NOLOSE Conference cooperating with the Low Scent Policy to make this an accessible conference.

If you smoke:

Please smoke only in the designated smoking area located outside of the hotel and away from the entrances. Washing your hands after you smoke helps too! Please also keep in mind that many chemically-sensitive people will also get sick from the smoke clinging to your clothing and hair.

After the pool:

If you're going to use the pool, showering afterward will get rid of that horrible chlorinated smell that clings to hair and skin. Thank you!

Product suggestions:

Note that this is an initial list, and we're working on including more scent-free hair products marketed to African-Americans.

SOAP: Tom's of Maine unscented, Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil, Neutrogena unscented, Dr. Bronner's Aloe Vera Baby Mild, Simple, Body Shop unscented shower gel.

LAUNDRY DETERGENT: Arm & Hammer Free, Tide Free, Wisk Free, Planet, 7th Generation fragrance-free, Granny's, any other fragrance-free brands.

SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER: Pure Essentials fragrance-free, Magick Botanicals fragrance-free, Simple, Granny's.

SKIN LOTION: Eucerin, Simple, any other fragrance-free variety.

DEODORANT: Almay fragrance-free, Simple, Jason Natural unscented, Kiss My Face fragrance-free, any other fragrance-free variety.

HAIR GEL: Magick Botanicals, or make your own with gelatin (really works!)

HAIR SPRAY: Magick Botanicals, Almay

MAKEUP: Almay (in all drugstores), Clinique (in department store cosmetic sections and online).

SHAVING CREAM: Ray Ban hypoallergenic, Kiss My Face fragrance-free, Simple

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