It’s the 21st Century
Let’s get music festivals disability-inclusive.
Coming into the festival season I think it’s time we draw attention to the lack of accessibility and inclusion towards people with disability at music festivals. Time and time again there are constantly small but such powerful things that get missed when it comes to events. These could be as simple as providing disability parking, accessible entrance points, quiet spaces, and even consideration with signage and lighting.
Festivals are such a great experience and nothing beats the thrill of seeing your favourite band or artist up on stage live, but for those with disabilities, they can be a daunting and inaccessible experience. From large crowds and loud music to poorly thought out facilities, there are many barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully enjoying the event.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many ways we can make music festivals more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities. Here are just a few:
- Provide disability access information on the event website, including maps that display all locations where people can go without difficult walks or stairs. Include entrances as well as disabled parking.
- Create wheelchair-accessible stages and facilities.
- Have the disability parking in a spot that makes sense and actually assists in making accessibility easier and if this is not possible, provide disability shuttle services to and from the disability parking areas.
- Have disability restrooms and ensure they are located somewhere that is easy and quick to get to and doesn’t involve stairs or long hikes to get there. Consider mobility issues and be strategic.
- Offer disability-friendly seating areas with good views of the stage.
- Create an inclusive event for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Hire sign language interpreters for the grounds, situate them in areas such as near food stalls, medical tents and information tents and have interpreters on stage for the performances and allow them to sign the music. Heck even have a screen that displays the interpreters signing the music.
- Consider those with autism or other sensory sensitivities. This could mean assessing music volumes and noise levels as well as the lighting. A great inclusion can be creating quiet safe spaces around the grounds.
- Hire enough staff and promote disability awareness to all staff members, including artists and volunteers. Make them aware of the disability parking locations, easily accessible areas, toilets and quiet spaces.
- Install signage that is clear and precise and outlines disability facilities.
- Include Alt text on social media promotions.
- Ask your guests about what they would like to see at the event and what inclusions would make their experience easier and more enjoyable.