UK Disability History Month – Attitude is Everything

Interview transcript

Hello everybody. Welcome back. This is Hampshire County Council from Winchester, in a 2nd in a three-part series on Disability History Month. If you haven’t listened to the first one, who’s in the first one, Hattie?

So, the first one was Mat Fraser who is a disabled actor and musician who can play the drums.

And if you haven’t had a listen to that first one please do, it’s on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, have a search for Hampshire County Council. So, again, this is for Disability History Month. This is a different interview we’ve done this time, completely different subject area. Hattie, please tell us who are we speaking to this time around? So, this time we spoke to Rich from a charity called Attitude is Everything and they are a charity which help to improve access to music evens and festivals for disabled people right across the UK.

Brilliant. I’m really looking forward to hearing this one. By the way, we’d really love to hear what you think about this, or all the other interviews so please do leave us a message on Twitter or on Facebook. I think we’re going to dive in and have a listen, shall we?

Yep, let’s go straight to our skype call.

[Ringing]

Hi guys, how are you doing?

Hiya, how are you?

I’m very well, thanks very much.

Great. So, we’re just going to talk a little bit about the charity that you work for, ‘Attitude is Everything’ for UK Disability History Month. So, could you just tell us a little bit about what the charity does, to start with?

‘Attitude is Everything’ has been going for almost 20 years now. We’re based in London but we provide support for the music industry in the UK; venues, promoters, festivals, artists all around the UK. Primarily our work focuses on making venues, festivals, any music event as accessible as possible, so an inclusive as possible. We’ve seen some really positive improvements, especially in the last few years in how many people are attending gigs and how we’ve managed to break open these barriers and actually open these things up for multiple groups of people.

Ok, so, the work you do, who do you find it usually benefits the most?

I think it’s probably an important thing for everyone to think about because a lot of impairment conditions can come to you at any point in your life so while you might be in a situation now where you feel fully able to do most things that you want to, that situation can change.

And going back, you said you’ve done a lot of work with audiences. What sort of things do you do to help disabled people access these events? We work really closely with music venues. We have a charter of venues that they sign up, make a commitment as to their ability. It kind of starts with a willingness and then making small changes and then they can achieve a different level of award in that charter so we work with over 150 music venues around the UK. They’re all signed up and then install everything from providing quiet space venues, making signage really clear, having step free access to the bar, where the performance space is, you know, little details that can just make a massive difference to somebody.

I’ve seen actually at Reading Festival they’ve had people doing sign language during gigs which I thought was great.

Yeah and that is something that is becoming more prominent. We kind of encourage artists to think of ways to share their lyrics with the audience. It may not be like using an interpreter but there are other ways of doing it like almost artistically you can use video, a video screen, or you can at least just provide something on the night that has a copy of the lyrics on and then there’s the new technology being developed around vibrations and music in sonics so there are ways for people with hearing impairments to still feel music.

So, what benefits does it have on people with disabilities just by putting in that bit of extra effort, what kind of benefit does it have for them?

I mean a very obvious one is you like music, you want to go to gigs, then it’s as simple as letting someone -, it just stops you being a disabled person basically because you’re only that as a result of the way society has been constructed around you so once you remove all those barriers you’re just part of everyone else. You probably benefit a lot culturally from going to these events, socially from meeting people, so it’s the same reason everyone else goes to gigs.

So, it’s a case of making sure people with a disability aren’t getting, a sort of, special treatment or made to feel patronised, you want it to be as natural experience as possible. Do you still find that a challenge?

Um well, that’s a good question, and it’s different for everybody. The way they want to be treated and how they want to handle this stuff is different. Some people are very comfortable talking about it and sharing it but I’m sure there will be plenty of disabled people that would say to you that they are, in certain situations, patronised or on the receiving end of condescending communication but equally there will be great examples of people like venues and staff who are flourishing with their access and they’re just getting on with it in a really great way as well. Part of what we’re doing is about planting the seed there, but we need to have the willingness from people to engage with the issues and yeah, change what they’re doing.

So you’ve seen people going to gigs nowadays but how can people get younger children, with maybe disabilities who might be a little bit self-conscious to get involved, how can parents and teachers help them to get involved in nativities and music scenes when they’re younger, so when they do get older and go to these gigs, it is a natural thing to them.

I suppose my own personal opinion would just be that there certainly is something to be said for like role models and the impact of having people speaking out who are successful musicians and artists. It isn’t as simple as saying ‘Oh look, there’s a disabled person who made it’ it’s more about actually ‘Oh look, there’s a guitarist and I want to be a guitarist’ and then thinking ‘Oh well they’ve got an impairment or a health condition’. It’s not a big deal for them because they’ve been able to do x, y and z because I suppose parents just need the confidence to support children or kids in whatever they really want to do and not feel like ‘well that’s probably going to be a bit of a struggle’.

It’s just getting them in that mindset I suppose from such a young age that it isn’t something that’s different.

Yeah, like I said, if you have more role models and adults to sort of see and it’s like with the Paralympics in 2012, it did just focus on the sport and competition and it really, the disability aspect of it just faded away and that’s really important and that’s the kind of thing you want to happen with music but we obviously don’t have many visible disabled musicians so it’s perhaps a but further behind in that regard.

Well it’s been great talking to you, Rich. Thank you for spending your time chatting to us.

You’re welcome. Thanks very much for having me.

[Hangs-up]

Now this is something I’d never thought about before, Hattie. So, you kind of touched on the point a little bit yourself, you kind of see, say, the sign language at concerts these days, that’s the visible bit, there’s also the invisible stuff as well, the bit that just makes things happen for concert goers, for event goers, for people to be able to access music that you may not even notice most of the time.

Yeah so there’s lots of things that this charity does that you wouldn’t necessarily see. There’s the vibrations that anyone else in the audience wouldn’t necessarily know was going on but it helps deaf people or people with hearing impairments just be able to feel the music and really get involved like any other person.

I loved it. I’m really looking forward to the final part. Who’s going to be up for part three of our interviews?

So, we’ve got some people from Hampshire Music Service at Hampshire County Council who will be talking about how they help children with disabilities and impairments really get involved in music and really get the engagement going from a young age.

Hattie, thanks so much. I think we’re going to get in from the cold here because it’s a freezing December afternoon but thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you for part three.