Everybody enjoys going out from time to time. You may decide to go and see a gig at a local pub, or to one of our great british festivals during the summer months. Although a simple thought for the average person (money aside), for some they can be much more challenging experiences. In many cases people with disabilities have a hard time attending concerts or festivals despite the enjoyment they get out of them.
There are theatres and clubs that are considered as “accessible” venues. There is no need to go up any steps and these venues are easy to navigate. Usually doors are wide open during a show and there are large bathrooms on the ground floor. They are easy to access and it doesn’t matter if the person has a disability or not. Even in those venues where disabled access has been considered, there are other challenges disabled attendees face, they often need to ask people to move out of the way which can be challenging when competing with loud sound systems. There isn’t always a dedicated space for a person in a wheelchair to sit and watch the show with a clear view – in smaller venues they can end up staring at other peoples backs for the whole event. Often people in wheelchair are easily bumped into/ tripped over – as other concert goers are not
When people with disabilities plan to attend a concert, it takes a lot of time to plan the evening, check the venue and it’s accessibility for disabled people. It also requires a lot of patients, good luck and will to have a good night out despite of everything. The experience is just not the same for them.
As a positive side, there are venues where temporary ramps are set that go all the way to the stage and help people with wheelchairs to move easier, but going back is the hard part and they are stuck. For leaving the concert or go to the bathroom, the staff needs to be notified to make certain arrangements. There are also several concerns from a safety point, when emergency happens or an evacuation is necessary.
When people use electric or power chairs they have some stability in crowds, but when a concert is in the environment it is very difficult and not safe at all.
Dedicated areas for people with disabilities don’t always solve the problem, either. They’re often small, leaving people who need them with no choice. And able-bodied concert-goers often fill the spaces or block them, anyway.
For example, the O2 Arena in London is one of the biggest venues in the world. They hire people to help the disabled customers in any way. On one hand it makes it considerably easier for them moving through the crowds with hi vis jackets and flashing lights, but on the other hand they can feel like they are being highlighted and stand out when they go to concerts and events with a lot of people. They just want to blend in and have a great time like everybody else.
Important Charities for Deaf and Disabled Concert Attendees
The idea behind Gig Buddies is that we want to enable people with learning disabilities and/or autism to enjoy all the great things going on in their community, especially live music. Gig Buddies is a project that pairs up people with and without learning disabilities (and/or autism) to be friends and to go to events together. The Gig Buddies project aims to make volunteering easier for people in Sussex by enabling volunteers to go to gigs they’d already probably be going to anyway, but with someone with a learning disability.
Gig Buddies are active in the following areas – Sussex, Brighton, Hove, Worthing, Chichester, Lewes, Uckfield, Eastbourne and Hastings.
Check out their website for more information https://www.gigbuddies.org.uk
Attitude is Everything
Attitude is Everything improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry.
Check out their website for more information http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/