Wheelchair users are excluded from a huge variety of events. Whether talks, readings, performances or workshops, organisations often choose venues that don’t have wheelchair access. When challenged on the deliberate decision to prevent wheelchair users attending their events, they will often say that no wheelchair users come anyway, or that they couldn’t find another venue. What they mean is “nobody really cares”.
Events that don’t provide the bare minimum of wheelchair access are not accessible, inclusive, or diverse. They further the oppression of disabled people and wheelchair users, and limit our opportunities in life. But you can change this.
Let’s show the world that it matters that wheelchair users attend events. Let’s show event organisers that they need to include us. If the demand is there, the access will be provided. This can’t just be achieved by wheelchair users ourselves – so here’s where you come in.
Whether or not you need wheelchair access, when you’re considering attending an event, drop them a message. Tell them you want to attend, and ask whether they provide wheelchair access. Once events see that the demand is there for wheelchair access, they will start changing their policies and providing access. It’ll take 2 minutes, and could make a real difference.
I was considering attending your event on ABC because it looked really interesting, and I wondered whether you were using a wheelchair accessible venue for holding the event.
I really hope you provide wheelchair access, and I’d love to see you at the event
If they reply to that, you could encourage them to make access information obvious on their website, or you could challenge their refusal to provide access:
“As I’m sure you’re aware, there is a legal anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments to include disabled people, which include making sure that you provide basic wheelchair access – whether or not you know that there will be disabled people there.“
But the thing is, you don’t even need to follow it up. By sending that 2 minute original email, you’re showing them that there’s a demand for wheelchair access to their events – so what’s stopping you?
Every time you want to attend something, just #AskForAccess – and do your part in challenging disableism.