Access all areas: how festivals cater for people with mobility problems

‘Legless in Dublin’ blogger Louise Bruton and Body & Soul founder Avril Stanley join Roísín Ingle on this week’s podcast

 

Muddy fields make poor terrain for wheelchairs, so festivals present big a challenge for their users.

Journalist and ‘Legless in Dublin’ blogger Louise Bruton rates last year’s Body & Soul as “the best festival experience I’ve had since using the wheelchair”, but it wasn’t without its problems.

“One of my major irks at festivals is, people that use the wheelchair portaloos and don’t realise that people in wheelchairs can’t necessarily hover. Everyone knows what portaloos are like on day three of a festival, so this is something I want to get into people’s heads. Stop using the wheelchair portaloos!”

Louise and Body & Soul founder Avril Stanley join Roísín Ingle on this week’s podcast to talk about the development of the festival and how it caters to the needs of people with mobility problems. Avril says she is following Louise’s advice.

“This year at all the main toilet blocks, we’ll have a disabled toilet that has a padlock on it that anyone who comes in under access camping has access to. So it can’t be used by the general public.”

She traces this approach back to when a disabled friend visited a past festival and got into difficulties. “After the festival we sat down and spent a bit of time together, and I tried to really get into this mindset of, what is this really like?” says Avril. “We want the festival to be as inclusive as possible.”

Louise is impressed with the results. “The disabled campsite was really close to the main arena, whereas other festivals tend to plonk the disabled campsite on the furthest site away,” she says. “And in the disabled campsite you have an access officer and her mobile number, and if you have any problems you give her a text or a call. It’s great, you kind of feel like you’re looked after.”

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