There are over 3.7 million deaf and disabled people that have access to music events every year, and this number is gradually increasing as more UK events and festivals make accessibility a priority.
We all know that festivals can be problematic when it comes to planning, large crowds and unpredictable weather, so it’s unimaginable how difficult it must be for someone with a disability. Research from the charity, Attitude To Everything, shows that 82% of deaf and disabled people still struggle, not just with how accessible UK festivals and events are, but also with the online booking systems and getting through to the booking line in the first place. Therefore, 79% say they have been put off buying tickets overall, and they feel discriminated because their needs aren’t being taken into account. This means ticket companies are losing out on millions of pounds due to their poor ticketing systems.
In this post, you can find out more information about the most popular accessible UK festivals, and advice to help you when deciding whether a festival is best for you and your disability.
How Is The Attitude Is Everything Charity Helping Accessible UK Festivals?
Attitude Is Everything, established in 2000, is a disability-led charity that is also known as an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation. They use their professional expertise to work with the music industry to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music events. Most of their work is determined by the feedback they receive from surveys completed by deaf and disabled people who have attended music events.
The charity believes that music should be for everyone, and with the impact of Attitude Is Everything, almost 100 festivals and music venues have exceeded the legal requirements and have become accessible UK festivals. They have done this by signing up to The Charter Of Best Practice which involves bronze, silver and gold stages. Each stage requires different improvements that must be put into place to pass each stage. There are a number of music artists that support The Charter Of Best Practice, like Kasabian and Biffy Clyro. Attitude Is Everything also focus on improving the social factors, independence, inclusivity and participation.
Which UK Festivals Are The Most Accessible?
British Summer Time (BST) – Hyde Park
British Summer Time is a ten-day event held at Hyde Park which features a range of music events over six out of the ten days. We know how important it is to take everyone’s needs into account when planning such a big event, and BST has never failed to do this ever since they were established in 2013, which is unlike the majority of festivals in the UK when they first started out. This dedication led them to be the first-ever accessible UK festival to receive a level of The Charter Of Best Practice in their first year. They have now received their gold level and have introduced British Sign Language (BSL) this year which is available on all their main stages. If you want to join the fun in 2020, more information on tickets can be found here.
NRS Healthcare interviewed Emma, who is a Muscular Dystrophy sufferer and blogger who has attended many accessible UK festivals. In the interview, she shared her own experience of BTS. She said: “The accessibility was the best thing I’ve ever seen at an event. In particular, I loved how easy it was to purchase accessible tickets, access into the festival grounds was stress-free and there were mats on the ground making it easier for wheelchairs.” Emma also said that there were ‘changing places’ toilets, which are toilets with more space and contain the right equipment, such as a height-adjustable changing bench.
Glastonbury Festival – Somerset
Glastonbury, one of the most famous accessible UK festivals to date, is a four-day festival which offers a variety of different options for deaf and disabled people, so you do not want to miss out on this one! They’ve been in partnership with Attitude Is Everything since 2005 and offer a campsite completely dedicated to deaf and disabled people. Not to mention, this is separate to the main campsite, so you don’t have to worry about anything, such as disruption or unsettling crowds! Some of the campsite facilities include wheelchair-friendly toilets and showers, charging facilities for wheelchairs and medical equipment, a fridge to store medication, and stewards offering 24/7 care and assistance when needed.
Questioning how you are going to afford a ticket for you and your PA? You don’t have to worry about this because Glastonbury Festival offers a 2-for-1 ticket scheme which also includes a space for you and your PA on the shuttle, conveniently running from the blue badge car park to the campsite, and on the viewing platforms at the main stages. The Glastonbury website offers more information nearer to the time of the event about the deaf and disabled facilities that year.
Glastonbury isn’t just one of the top accessible UK festivals, but they also feature some of the best artists every year. They shared a teaser post on Twitter on 1st July telling followers that they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary next year, with the festival being held on 24th-28th June 2020, so we are expecting big things!
Note: a top tip before trying to bag Glastonbury tickets is to register on their website first, as they’re not easy to get!
Latitude Festival – Suffolk
If you would rather avoid the burden of attempting to get Glastonbury tickets, there are a number of alternatives that are just as enjoyable! Latitude is an accessible UK festival that’s taking place on 16th-19th July 2020. They have been working with Attitude Is Everything for over 15 years, and volunteers from the charity will be there to offer you a friendly helping hand at the information tents! Latitude offers an access scheme that’s available every year for deaf and disabled people; this includes viewing platforms specially designed for wheelchairs, disabled parking with a bus pass, disabled toilets, and a free PA scheme.
Wondering about their services for deaf people? Latitude festival offers a performance interpreting service available for a large range of their shows, but their BSL doesn’t just end there; it’s also available on their official Youtube channel which features informative videos. This makes them stand out from other accessible UK festivals because you won’t miss out on keeping up-to-date on the latest news! The service is run by fully qualified individuals from Performance Interpreting.
Another handy feature of their online services is that their website includes information on the site layout and ground conditions which is really helpful as it gives you an idea of what to be aware of and how to prepare before you arrive.
Reading and Leeds Festival
Reading and Leeds festival are actually both the same accessible UK festival, specialising in Indie and Rock. They run on the same weekend in August, but in different locations with alternating artists. Both festivals have worked closely with Attitude Is Everything for over 15 years to help provide disabled ticket holders with viewing platforms, a practical campsite with the chance for two friends to camp with you as well as your PA, toilets and charging points for wheelchairs. Not forgetting their deaf ticket holders, a performance interpreting service is available and hearing loops can be installed at the campsite check-in. Don’t worry if you forget what services the festival provide; the information has been made into a handy access guide which is available to download and print here.
These are just a few of the accessible UK festivals that are happening in 2020. Click here to view some more.
How Can You Choose The Best Accessible UK Festival?
We all know the British weather can be very unpredictable, so make sure you are prepared for all weather types! A rain poncho is an affordable festival essential as it’s easy to pack, doesn’t take up much room, and (most importantly) will keep you dry!
Do Your Research
Make sure you do plenty of research into the accessible UK festival you are considering. A useful tip is to look at the official website for the festival you want to go to and have a browse through their information section. If they don’t have any information regarding accessibility on their website, they probably won’t prioritise it! However, you can always call the festival’s contact number or email them to double-check. Many of the festivals provide easy-to-follow access guides on their website that you can download.
Check In Advance The Type Of Ticket You Need To Purchase
Accessible UK festival tickets will usually be separate to standard tickets, but no one likes to feel confident that they’re going to get tickets for something and then realise they get given a time limit during the purchasing process! So to save the stress of waiting until the official release date when everyone is trying to purchase tickets at the same time, research in advance what type of ticket you need to buy and how you will go about purchasing it.
There will sometimes be a separate phone line rather than an online booking process, so make sure you have the number handy for when the tickets go on sale! If you are familiar with this, you may have noticed that some festivals will just sell standard tickets, and then you will get the opportunity to fill in additional information about your requirements afterwards. This method is more efficient as it avoids the mayhem of a single phone line!
We don’t want you missing out on 2-for-1 PA perk that the majority of accessible UK festivals offer, so if you need your PA to attend with you, make sure you research what type of ticket you’ll both need.
A good tip for staying organised when you’re at the festival is to print out the confirmation of your tickets which should include your requirements. This is so that festival staff are aware of what support they can provide you to ensure you’ll be in safe hands!
Do You Need More Guidance On Accessibility?
If you need more information on accessibility, such as what mobility aid might be best for you and your disability, we can offer you expert advice and provide you with high-quality products that will help fulfil your needs and requirements. To get in touch with us today, either send us an enquiry via our contact form or call us on 01733 342242.