UK: Attitude is Everything, the UK’s leading authority on live music accessibility for deaf and disabled people, has awarded Reading Festival Gold Status on its Charter of Best Practice – recognising the event’s long-term commitment to inclusivity and access innovation.
Working with Attitude is Everything since 2005, event organiser Festival Republic has consistently improved facilities for disabled audiences, reaching Silver status on the Charter in 2014 and picking up an Outstanding Attitude Award in 2016 award for its innovative BSL interpretation service developed in collaboration with deaf customers.
Reading’s other access-based facilities include:
- A dedicated check-in for disabled customers. Enabling them to collect access-related accreditation such as personal assistant passes, viewing platform wristbands, and accessible campsite passes.
- A fully-stewarded accessible campsite. Complete with access lanes to ensure customers have easy access to tents, accessible water points, accessible medical storage, an information tent staffed by Attitude is Everything volunteers, power charging points for power wheelchairs and medical equipment, accessible toilets and showers, and a cabin unit that houses an adult hoist and toilet for people who require this facility.
- Viewing platforms at each major stage. With two at the Main Stage and NME / BBC Radio 1 Stage.
- An accessible backstage bar and press area. Including its own accessible toilet.
- Detailed online access information.
- A dedicated Access Officer. Overseeing customer access bookings as well as all access issues on site.
- A dedicated accessible parking field. With its access gate situated conveniently by the side of the main stage.
- Interchangeable Personal Assistant lanyards. Enabling disabled customers to enjoy the company of different friends during the weekend.
As a result of these facilities, and with other provisions such as free Personal Assistant / Companion tickets offered as standard, Reading has seen a dramatic uplift in deaf and disabled audiences attending the event.
Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of Attitude is Everything, said: “I attended my first Reading Festival in 1987 for a day, when the headliners were The Mission, Status Quo and Alice Cooper. The highlight of my day was seeing John Peel’s delight at tucking in to a very lush jacket potato and baked beans, as well as seeing all the bands, of course! Back then, hardly any disabled fans attended music festivals and facilities were practically non-existent – which makes today’s award of great personal satisfaction.
“The festival today could not be more welcoming or inclusive. Working in partnership with Attitude is Everything, Melvin Benn and the Festival Republic team have consistently developed the festival to become more accessible and inclusive as the years have gone by. As a result, attendance from deaf and disabled customers, along with their friends and families, has never been higher. The impact is far-reaching, and a perfect embodiment of how live music can change lives when barriers to access are removed.”
Melvin Benn, MD of Festival Republic, said: “In an industry as diverse as music and festivals, we should be doing everything in our power to make our events as accessible as possible for everyone. As we continue to develop our BSL interpretation service and progress all disabled access avenues across our events, it’s rewarding to see our disabled customer numbers continuing to grow.
“Having worked with Attitude Is Everything since 2005 we look forward to continuing this relationship, and are delighted that Reading Festival has been awarded Gold Status on their Charter of Best Practice.”