Image by photographer Jeff Kravitz
Trudging through the mud when you can’t see what’s in front of you due to having a disability and having people bashing into you from every direction might not sound like fun to everyone, but to the many disabled people that attend the Glastonbury every year it is what makes the experience more enjoyable. There are many aspects which have been added to festivals like Glastonbury to make it more accessible to disabled people. For example, Glastonbury work closely with Attitude is Everything, which is a charity set up to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music and performances. Attitude is Everything has been working with Glastonbury since 2005 and supports the music industry to make live music more accessible and encourages events producers to go beyond legal obligations and publicly show their commitment to improving access, so that disabled people can have the same experiences as abled bodied people. Glastonbury have improved their access for disabled people in the following ways;
Spring Ground Accessible Campsite
This campsite at Glastonbury was set up to be fully accessible to disabled people. It has wheelchair accessible toilets and wheelchair adapted showers for use by disabled campers only. Therefore no other festival goers can have access to these facilities, there are also standard portable toilets for friends and family, so that the festival experience can be shared. There is a Changing Places Unit, which contains an electric raised bed with a hoist along with a sink and toilet which can be used thought out the day.
In addition there is an area to charge electric wheelchairs and other medical equipment and a secure fridge which medicines can be stored in. There is also a free shuttle bus service from the accessible car park to Spring Ground and this also runs from the campsite to the Theatre and Circus area and Pak Ground, all buses supplied are wheelchair accessible and are only to be used by disabled festival goers and an accompanying person.
There a viewing platforms at all the main stages at Glastonbury. These a solely for the use of disabled people plus one other. Every platform has a team of stewards ready to assist people when needed and the access ramps are placed in accordance with disability regulations. However chairs are not provided on any of the platforms, so any disabled person going with others has to bring along a chair.
All of these different measures have been put in place in order for disabled people to have the same access to live music as abled bodied people, but does this really mean that disabled people gain the same experience? There is always the mind set of others which needs to be taken into account before suggesting that disabled people really do get the same experience, for example, do people include disabled people within the atmosphere at a music festival or are we looked with a sympathetic eye? Jill Barkely, 38, from Glasgow, who is visually in paired says “Glastonbury is my favourite festival, as it has such a friendly atmosphere, I’ve met all kinds of cool people, but Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine was brilliant.” This is so lovely to hear as a disabled person myself, who has never been to Glastonbury, but would like to go as it shows that in today’s sociality people are so much more accepting of disabilities and everyone can enjoy music and experience events together. Jill also says “’I’ve been going to Glastonbury for eight years. I’ve got right up to the front – touching distance – to watch acts. I say ‘watch’ out of habit, but I do have a very visual memory. It helps I’ve experienced festivals sighted and blind.” This I great to hear as well as I would love to experience a festival and this is inspirational to me and in sure to other people as well as it proves that everyone can do what they want and experience the things that they want.