Boskone Access FAQ

Boskone is a mid-sized literary science fiction and fantasy convention (about 1,200 attendees) that is held in the Boston Westin Waterfront, a hotel built in the early 2000s. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment and we will do our best to accommodate requests for special assistance when possible. This page describes the accessibility features of Boskone, to help you make an informed decision about whether the conference will be accessible to you. Please contact us at if your question is not answered here. We will work with you to the best of our ability, to make the conference accessible.


How do I communicate accessibility needs to Boskone organizers?

Boskone’s Information/Volunteer area has been renamed Information/Volunteer/Accessibility, and will have at least one person available to help people with accessibility issues during the convention. Prior to or during Boskone, staff can be reached via e-mail at

The Information/Volunteer/Accessibility table is clearly marked and located in the lower level of the Westin in the Galleria area and will be clearly marked. Their goal is to ensure the con is as accessible as possible to everyone attending.

When you register for the conference, there will be a field that invites you to share your accessibility needs. In your response, please indicate any special needs such as wheelchair access, sign language interpretation, etc, which will help us with our planning and information. If you have any additional questions after reading this FAQ, you are welcome to contact us directly at

Who do I ask if my question is not answered here?

Again, for more detailed information about accessibility at the Westin Waterfront Hotel, please check the venue accessibility information page or contact the hotel directly by phone at 617-532-4600.

If there is specific accessibility information you would like to see here regarding the convention or programming, or if you wish to discuss any accessibility requirements, please contact Boskone’s Access Liaison via email at and someone will respond to you shortly.

Will sign language interpretation or captioning be available?

Boskone does not provide sign language interpretation or captioning at this time. However, we are looking into possible solutions that we can provide or resources that members can contact for assistance.

What are the taxi and public transport options for getting to the Westin Waterfront Hotel?

The MBTA transit system in Boston includes a subway system, commuter rail system, and bus system that feeds into various national transit systems like Amtrak and Greyhound. While our focus is on the accessibility within the Westin Waterfront Hotel itself, some outdoor city sidewalks may have ice and or snow on them and may not be ideal for wheelchairs or mobies. Please be sure to check the weather when traveling as sidewalk access is not always easy in snowy conditions.

Airport:  For people who are flying into Logan Airport, you may either take an accessible cab or the MBTA’s Silver Line to the Westin Waterfront Hotel. The hotel is just over a block from the Silver Line Train Station (World Trade Center Exit). The Silver Line’s World Trade Center stop has an accessible elevator between the train level and the sidewalk that leads to the Westin Waterfront Hotel/Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. There are no steps between the driveway and the entrance into the hotel.

Subway: For people who will be coming to Boskone via the subway or commuter rail systems, the closest station is South Station, which is accessible and is 0.8 miles from the Westin Waterfront. From South Station, there is a sidewalk for pedestrian use or you may contact a local cab company to arrange for an accessible cab.

Bus: There are several bus lines that get close to the Westin Waterfront Hotel. The MBTA system allows you to map out your accessible bus route, looking specifically for accessible buses and bus stops. There is a Summer Street/World Trade Center stop right next to the Westin Waterfront Hotel as well as stops on A Street and at South Station. Please be sure to review the routes carefully and arrange supplementary accessible cab transportation as needed.

Accessible Cabs: The city of Boston has approximately 100 wheelchair accessible taxi vehicles and they have provided a useful PDF document that lists the cab companies and their usability ratings. Please be sure to make your cab arrangements in advance since some companies require notice in order to ensure that a vehicle that fits your needs is available when and where you need it.

Hotel Parking Garage: Every level of the hotel’s garage has handicap parking spaces. There is an elevator exit on each level of the garage that also connect to each level of Boskone’s convention space.

Who can I ask about accessibility in Boston?

The City of Boston has posted a short message for people with disabilities who need transportation assistance.

Can I have access to a personal care assistant during Boskone?

While Boskone is unable to provide or facilitate personal care assistants, we do encourage members to bring their own personal care assistants as needed. Members who are disabled and require personal care assistance to navigate and experience the convention fully can  request a person-in-tow badge for their assistant to accompany throughout the convention.

What is the convention space like?

Boskone’s function space takes place on three separate levels of the Westin Waterfront Hotel, including:

  • Harborwing Concourse/Lower Level: aka the Galleria, Con Suite, Art Show, Dealers Room, Volunteers/Information/Accessibility, Children’s Activities
  • Hotel Lobby Level: Restaurants, Coat Check, Marina Program Rooms
  • Harborwing Conference Level: aka the Harbor Area: Boskone Registration, Events, Program, Readings, Music, Gaming, Program Ops

Here are 360-degree photos of sleeping rooms and most function rooms at the hotel and a map of the Lobby Level:

For the overall layout of the venue, please refer to the map/floor plans of Boskone’s program space.

Getting Around the Space: The Westin is wheelchair and mobie accessible through the main entrance. The hotel lobby open, but there are landmarks for the vision impaired to navigate. All levels of the program area and hotel are accessible via ramps and elevators.

Elevators and Escalators: Parking garage elevators provide access to each level of the function space as well as to the hotel lobby and restaurants. All elevators have Braille signs and buttons. There are also sets of escalators that provide access to each level of the convention function space on the Harborwing side.

The elevators for the guest rooms are on the opposite of the Lobby from the garage elevators, and the Westin’s registration desk is directly between the two sets of elevators.

Program Rooms: All of the seating in our program rooms include space for wheelchairs/mobies in the front row or middle section as well as in the back row for easy access. The seat next to each cutout is marked as reserved for use by people who are accompanying members in mobies/wheelchairs. The rows of chairs for the audience members are not “tightly packed,” to make it easier to get in and out of your seat.

We also have seats reserved in the front row of each room for members who are sight or sound impaired, are pregnant, or otherwise need access to an easy to reach seat. Rooms have a wide center aisle that cuts through the seating area that allow for easy access for wheelchairs/mobies and pedestrians who require crutches or canes.

All of our program rooms feature wide speaker spaces for easy access and each head table will be set up with microphones and a speaker system.

Stages and Ramps: No program room will have a stage that requires a ramp, except in two instances. On Friday night in the Galleria, we hold our Meet the Guests session and on Saturday night in the Harbor Ballrooms, we hold the NESFA Awards and Feature Event. In both instances we have a set of stairs and a handrail available and we can accommodate a ramp for any presenters, guests, or participants for either of these two program items. We simply need enough notice to have the hotel staff accommodate the request.

The Galleria has a small raised area that is accessible via a ramp or stairs and is located in the back corner of the room where some programming takes place.

Please see our other FAQs for more details about wheelchair or power scooter access, provisions for program participants, restrooms, walking, standing, and steps, and facilities for assistance animals.

Will the convention space be accessible by wheelchair or a mobie (power scooter)?

Boskone is fully accessible by wheelchair or mobie. There are elevators connecting each of the function floors and the hotel lobby, the hallways are wide, and the aisles in the program rooms are also set up to accommodate the width of both wheelchairs and mobies. There are also cutouts in the program room seating areas to ensure that space is available to fully participate in activities.

Wheelchair & Mobie Rentals: The Westin does have some manual wheel “push” wheelchairs and mobies available by request (through the innkeeper). If you need to arrange a rental, you can contact the Westin at 617-532-4600. Please remember to contact them well in advance of your arrival at Boskone to ensure that you are able to meet your needs. Another option is to contact Boston-based mobility company, Scootaround by visiting their website at or calling 1-888-441-7575.

Offsite Events: Boskone does not hold any offsite events. All events are within the Westin and accessible.

For more information about wheelchair accessibility at the Westin Waterfront Hotel, please contact the hotel at 617-532-4600.

Does the Westin Waterfront Hotel offer accessible guest rooms?

The Westin has several wheelchair and mobie accessible guest rooms that also include roll-in showers or special handrails in the shower/bathtubs. To book one of these rooms, please be sure to contact the hotel by phone to let them know your specific needs. The your room please be sure to tell them at the time if you need a room with roll-in shower, a shower/bathtub with bars, a room near the escalator, a room on the first floor, a room that is easily accessible to the stairs, etc. Please do not wait until you arrive to request these rooms since Boskone’s room block sells out and we want to ensure that you have the space and accessibility that you need to fully experience and enjoy the convention.

What are the public restroom facilities like?

The Westin has accessible restrooms on every level of the program space with 1-2 over sized stalls in each restroom. The public area restroom doors are not powered and required manual power to open.

What are the arrangements for program participants with accessibility needs?

Program participants who have accessibility needs should be sure to include their needs in the Program Participant Survey that they receive from the Program Team. Each program room comes with a head table that is set up with approximately 5 chairs and microphone as well as a speaker. There is a wide gap behind the table that should enable easy movement. If you need assistance with moving chairs for program items for which you are a scheduled speaker, please be sure to both note that in your survey and to confirm your needs with the Program Team when you receive your draft schedule.

If you have additional questions about presenting, please contact either or

Can I bring my guide dog?

Yes! Animals are welcome at the Westin Waterfront Hotel, and guide dogs and other service animals are welcome at Boskone. Water for your service animal is available in the Con Suite. Please indicate on your registration form if you anticipate bringing a service animal to the conference.

If you have pet allergies, please note that the Westin is a dog friendly hotel and you may need to bring your medication with you as there may be service animals onsite. We also ask that everyone respect the working animals and give them appropriate space. Please do not pet or otherwise distract service animals unless invited to do so by their owners.

How much walking, standing, or steps will be needed?

Boskone uses half of the hotel facilities, covering three separate floors. While rooms are very close together on each floor there is a moderate amount of walking that is needed when traveling between floors. However, the Westin and Boskone have provided a number of places to sit and rest in the hallways, wide corridors outside the ballrooms, in the Galleria (Con Suite), and in the main lobby of the hotel. If you have trouble walking or standing, we recommend that if you arrange mobility aids prior to arriving at Boskone.

Wheelchair & Mobie Rentals: The Westin does have some manual wheel “push” wheelchairs and mobies available by request (through the innkeeper). If you need to arrange a rental, you can contact the Westin at 617-532-4600. Please remember to contact them well in advance of your arrival at Boskone to ensure that you are able to meet your needs. Another option is to contact Boston-based mobility company, Scootaround by visiting their website at or calling 1-888-441-7575.

Offsite Events: Boskone does not hold any offsite events. All events are within the Westin and accessible.

Please contact our Access Team at as early as possible, if you have further questions or special requests.

Will there be an induction loop in the meeting rooms?

While Boskone does have microphones and sound systems with speakers in each of our program rooms, we do not have an induction loop available.

Will program participants and audience members asking questions be using a microphone?

Each program room will have microphones and a sound system for the program participants and presenters to use. However, audience members who ask questions will not have a microphone, but we do ask our presenters to repeat questions for other audience members to hear.

Kaffeeklatches and small discussions groups are set up at round tables that seat up to 10 people. Given the small size of the group these types of items do not use microphones. Our music program, aka filk, often features both a cappella singing as well as performances featuring microphones, depending upon the type of program item.

What food service will be provided?

Boskone does not provide meals for its members. However, we do have a modest Con Suite that provides a selection of food and drinks, which also include some vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives. If you have a nut allergy, please note that nuts and foods containing nuts are available and are clearly labeled.

The Westin also has several restaurants onsite that are equipped to accommodate food allergies and other dietary restrictions. In addition, the city of Boston has a plethora of restaurants that are within easy travel.

Can the convention accommodate special dietary needs?

Boskone’s Con Suite is modest, and while it does include some vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives, people who require vegan, Kosher, or allergen free meals should contact the Westin’s restaurants to obtain food that is suitable. If you have a nut allergy, please note that nuts and foods containing nuts are available in the Con Suite, and they are clearly labeled.

The Westin’s restaurants are equipped to accommodate food allergies and other dietary restrictions.

The Westin does not have a Kosher kitchen onsite. The Jewish Travel Advisor has highlighted several Kosher kitchen options in the Boston area, some of which also deliver.

Will the conference be a smoke-free environment?

Smoking is not permitted within the Westin Waterfront Hotel or in any of the Boskone program areas. For more detailed information about smoking regulations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts please refer to Section 22 of the General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 270.

What if I have a medical emergency or health problem during the conference?

In case of emergency call 911 for an ambulance. Boston known for its wide array of world class hospitals and the ambulance driver will know the best destination for your medical emergency.

If you require non-urgent medical care, please contact our Volunteer/Information/Access staff in the Galleria (lower level) of the convention area. They will work with the hotel staff to provide you with information about local doctors, specialists, chiropractors, etc.

For urgent medical care, contact the hotel and they will expedite contact with the local EMS.

For non-resident attendees, buying travel insurance that covers medical expenses is recommended as fees for emergency treatment can be very high. Please review your medical policies before traveling in order to know what services are available to you, especially if you are traveling out of your local area.

What types of publications are available for the convention?

The Boskone schedule will be available online prior to the convention in PDF and HTML formats as well as via the our mobile scheduling app. A printed pocket program and scheduling grid will also be available in print at the convention.

We have at least two pre-convention Helmuth Newsletters that are sent via email and can be read on mobile devices and resized in browser windows for easy reading. During the convention, the printed newsletter is available on every level and is available online just after publication.

We also feature an active blog (The Boskone Blog), which provides special content, information about the program, interviews with our program participants, and a variety of other Boskone related tidbits to help keep you informed and up-to-date. The blog is viewable on handheld devices and is resizable in various browsers. You can also sign up to have posts emailed directly to you to ensure you don’t miss anything. We also have active Facebook and Twitter (@boskonenews) accounts.

The at-con printed materials (including the Pocket Program, Souvenir Book, and Helmuth Newsletters) are not available in large format font, but they are all available online as PDFs that can be enlarged. The hotel lobby has access to free WIFI.

This FAQ has been generated from a template provided by ACM SIGACCESS.