Getting there – access advice for disabled people
In 2004, the Disabilities Discrimination Act established a law that disabled people have the same rights as able-bodied people to enjoy access to any event. But the vagaries of the British weather mean that many festivals and sporting events still prove a challenge to those in wheelchairs or those who have difficulty walking. Common complaints include problems with camping facilities, lack of information about the site layout and gradient, and access to disabled toilets.
Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, takes a look at what is being done to make access easier for disabled people and at the organisations campaigning on their behalf.
Sport England has produced a document entitled Access for Disabled People aimed at those providing sporting facilities. They state that full access means more than just being able to get through the front door and use the toilets. It means being able to make full use of the facility as a participant, spectator or as a member of staff. It’s a useful reference for the over eight million people in the UK who have some degree of disability to check that their needs are being met.
There is advice from the National Health Service for all festival goers on avoiding the pitfalls or dehydration, sunburn, excessive alcohol consumption and the ever important supply of loo roll and hand wipes. But they have also issued specialist advice for disabled festival goers and suggest that planning ahead is the key to staying healthy and happy during a festival.
Gama (Green Access and Mobility Areas) is a small organisation that will work with festival organisers to provide information on access, showers, toilets etc. for disabled people. They will run training sessions for site managers, stewards, stallholders and venue operators. It’s worth checking if the festival you are thinking of visiting has a GAMA presence.
For general entertainment accessability advice, including cinemas and theatres, Enabled People has a short piece written by someone with first-hand experience of disabilities.
Attitude is Everything began as a pilot project in 2000 to make live music events more accessible to deaf and disable people. It is now a fully independent charity and part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio of Organisations. One of their major successes is working with Festival Republic on all of their UK Festivals. If you’re a deaf or disabled music fan and want to get involved you can apply to join their nationwide team of Mystery Shoppers and report back on your festival experiences.
And if you have problems getting to your chosen entertainment, the Department of Transport has a section on access for disabled people outlining what measures are currently available for different modes of transport along with contact details for further advice.