ABLE2UK – The Accessible Concert 2016 was held on 7th January at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. By all accounts it was a raving success, with Irish singer and songwriter Hozier headlining. Both the venue and the artists contributed their time for free.
Chloe Bingham reviewed the concert for Able2UK and writes of a sold out crowd and brilliant acts. Chloe also interviewed Howard Thorpe, Able2UK founder, who hopes to organise another concert in the future.
The aim of the event was to raise awareness about accessibility for disabled music fans. The O2 Academy was transformed for the occasion, including step free and enhanced access wherever possible, assistants for those in need, increased accessible toilet provision, hearing induction loop and on-stage BSL signing interpreter.
Kate Walsh, a music fan with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy interviewed by BBC Newsbeat said that based on her experience, “concerts are 80% there. They’re not quite perfect yet.” Kate also said her experience of venues is extremely varied when it comes to what they offer disabled people.
Speaking of the event, MyPlus Students' Club founder Helen Cooke commented:
"Whilst it is really great to hear of The Accessible Concert and its success, I can’t help but be frustrated that in 2016 concerts aren’t automatically accessible to everyone. It also shudder at the thought of having a two-tier approach to concerts – one for disabled people and one for those who aren’t disabled. The real progress will be if / when all venues take the learnings from The Accessible Concert to ensure that all performances are totally inclusive - enabling concert goers to attend any gig secure in the knowledge that their needs will be automatically met."
A huge well done to Able2UK for putting these questions in the spotlight.