Be Glad for SAD: Zine Fest Puts Accessibility Up Front

One of the biggest appeals of zines and their scenes is the low barrier of access. What good is self-publishing if it is too prohibitive for most people to participate? The depth of what that access means should go beyond staples and copy shops.

SAD Fair, a new zine fest with an emphasis on disabled creators, wasn’t inspired by COVID. Organizers were originally planning to hold the fest in Oakland in May 2020, but as the pandemic submerged the world the crew at SAD (Sick and Disabled) converted to a fully virtual experience. It has remained that way ever since.

“Depending on the type of event, different access needs are more overlooked than others,” says Oby, one of the SAD organizers. “We don’t need to consider wheelchair accessibility since our event is fully virtual, but we do have to care a lot more about web accessibility and screen readers.”

Oby feels that most zine scene organizers take accessibility for granted, and online or off, there is still a great deal of consideration to be done beyond the standard Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. “Many organizers don’t take the time to educate themselves on sensory accessibility, wheelchair access beyond a ramp to the space, blind/VI accessibility, and d/Deaf/HoH accessibility,” says Oby.

Oby believes that zines are a great opportunity for marginalized artists. If we in the zine world believe that they are accessible to all then we must follow through in good faith. “Many disabled people are poor, with lack of access to educational institutions or resources,” says Oby, “zines are a great way to be able to create, share your experiences, and connect without requiring what is simply unattainable for us.”

SAD Fest runs until June 24th.


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