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Audience Access Alliance outlines checklist for reopening

Accessibility charity Attitude is Everything has published a ten-point ‘live music checklist’ to help ensure deaf, disabled and neurodivergent fans are made welcome when full-capacity events are allowed to resume in the UK.

Created by the UK’s cross-sector Audience Access Alliance, the initiative is designed to apply to any kind of venue or event and has been widely endorsed throughout the music industry.

With full-scale events in the UK anticipated to resume in coming weeks, Attitude is Everything has urged the country’s music and event industries to adopt its checklist as part of their reopening plans – making sure that the needs of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent (mentally ill or developmentally disabled) fans are considered as included in the reopening strategies for gigs and festivals.

The Audience Access Alliance, launched last year, is a coalition of 13 disability and accessibility organisations and networks that have united to remove barriers for cross-sector audiences across the UK, and is being replicated across the cultural, entertainment and sports sectors.

Designed to apply to any venue or event – from football matches and outdoor festivals to heritage sites, music venues, tourist attractions and theatres – the checklist enshrines the key understandings and policies required for reopening to be fully accessible for deaf and disabled people, many of whom are desperate to start attending shows again.

“The ten-point Accessible Reopening Checklist is designed to help any venue or event get ready to welcome back deaf and disabled people,” says Attitude is Everything founder Suzanne Bull. “It’s free and easy to use, so there’s no reason for promoters, venue managers and event organisers not to embrace and implement this checklist.

“Deaf and disabled people are looking forward to returning to an inclusive world of sports, arts and culture”

“Deaf and disabled people are artists, employees, volunteers and fans, and they’re looking forward to returning to an inclusive world of sports, arts and culture.”

The full Accessible Reopening Checklist runs as follows:

Any venue or event reopening to the public should be able to say “yes” to these things:

1. We agree that every person has the right to assess their own level of risk.
2. People can find facts on our website about accessibility and Covid-19 safety to make informed decisions.
3. If we have tickets on sale, deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people can arrange the access they need.
4. No one is advised against visiting our event or venue.
5. No one will be challenged about their ‘risk status’ at our entrance due to a perceived ‘vulnerability’.
6. Attendees are not expected to bring a doctor’s note if unable to wear a mask.
7. Our Covid-19 safety measures are accessible for everyone.
8. Our street furniture does not obstruct accessible parking or access routes for attendees or pedestrians.
9. Our staff have been trained in disability awareness and understand our access provision and COVID-safety measures.
10. We are committed to listening to deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people and engaging with any new audiences gained online during lockdown.

Jane Beese, head of music for Manchester International Festival and chair of the LIVE Equality, Diversity & Inclusion group, comments: “When live music returns, it’s imperative that all audiences are able to head back into venues as quickly and safely as possible. This checklist is a great reminder of the needs of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.”

“Attitude is Everything continues to provide guidance and awareness raising about access issues that are practical but also acknowledge that not everyone might have this in place,” says Beverley Whitrick, strategic director for Music Venue Trust. “The Accessible Reopening Checklist helps identify areas that might need further work so we will be sharing this within our grassroots music venue community.”

The checklist follows recently published guidance from Attitude is Everything on venue reopening and accessible employment.

Read Suzanne Bull’s recent piece for IQ, which urges the UK industry not to shut out disabled people when it reopens, here:

Live music’s recovery must be inclusive

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