In 2019 Disability Equality highlighted that “around one-third of all people who identify as LGBTQ+ also state they are disabled” and in today’s blog I want to identify what accessibility really means at Pride.
For some Pride is a protest, for others a party. For an employer Pride may be a way to promote an inclusive culture to enhance recruitment and retention. Brands use it may be a way to show solidarity with the purposes of inclusion and belonging. If Pride is all those things to all the people, then all the people need to be able to access all the things.
What does accessibility mean?
“Accessibility isn’t binary” says the author of this article in CNN travel which got me to thinking about the whole concept of inclusion and the multiplicity of purposes and aspects of Pride too.
Discuss inclusion at the initial stages of planning. How much easier is it to get inclusion right from the start than to have to crowbar it when everything is already organised? Many adaptations and initiatives are costly so need to be budgeted for.
Accessibility is physical
Accessibility is sometimes about physical barriers such as places to sit and rest, ramps and toilets. In research for this article I discovered a need for fragrance free zones – to help protect those with asthma and more complex multiple chemical sensitivities which are triggered by strong fragrances such as those in perfumes and hairsprays. I also found out that Stormzy has a sign language interpreter on stage during every performance.
For many people with hidden disabilities the thought of the long walk puts them off attending the parade, further isolating them from their able-bodied friends. Are there wheelchairs for hire, do the staff and route planners understand the need for leaving and joining points?
Lots of people have support animals which need support themselves.
Accessibility is mental
Other times accessibility is about mental challenges, the need for quite spaces and fears of over stimulation. Pride is incredibly colourful, loud music blasts from countless floats and venue doors. Have you been to Brighton during Pride? Where you can sing along with Bronski Beat from North Street “Run away, turn away” to Stanford Avenue “Ooooooooooooooh I’m in love”. Where can you go if you need to find somewhere quiet?
Accessibilty is intersectional
Have you also considered the prejudicial barriers to Pride? Are you creating an inclusive community that respects and gives space to people’s race, age and faith?
Are there coffee shops and children’s areas flying the rainbow? Is it easy to find the breastfeeding seats and changing areas? Who audited your signage?
Pride is for everyone and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure it is accessible for all.