Are we really one family?

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Accessibility at Psy events concerns us all!

During summer holidays we head for a festival or leave for a spontaneous weekend trip along the German “Goa Highway” A24 – a thing that appears quite normal to us. But for people who have to face life with a handicap, it’s often an unnecessarily difficult undertaking.

An easy-to-follow journey, accessibility to the festival ground and comprehensive on-site services are lacking at most Psytrance festivals and Gatherings, even though the one-love spirit is all too often underlined on these occasions. Surprisingly, the fact that people with disabilities also like to dance, laugh, chat, have fun and take part at the festival summer doesn’t even cross the minds of many people and doesn’t bother most of the festival organizers.
What many people forget while having fun at the party: With physical limits you can’t just reach the next festival area in the countryside like everyone else. Not only that is why attending a popular event for people with special needs often remains an unfulfillable wish.
Fortunately, a few Psy-Festivals are already setting a good example.

At Boom Festival in Portugal and New Healing Festival in Germany, there are structures that facilitate access and many on-site services that provide support for people with disabilities. And that should be the case wherever we go.

>For the past two decades, Boom Festival has been bringing personal and social transformation.< -Claudia Nóbrega, Boom Special Needs Camp Orga

What does barrier-free accessibility mean when it comes to festivals?

Sure, the vast majority of us like to be helpful and usually won’t make fun of people having a handicap or even actively exclude them from partying. But there it is about so much more when we talk about accessibility at festivals than a tolerant coexistence.
If a festival wants to offer the party of a lifetime to all visitors, the organizers and guests have to be prepared that people with disabilities will be participating. But what exactly does that actually mean?

Arrival and departure

Reserved parking spaces are available outside of every supermarket. If parking zones like these would also be set up at festival entrances, this would facilitate access for many people. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
A barrier-free shuttle service to the venue would be an interesting alternative. Most festivals already have shuttles anyway. If a handful of people who have been trained would pay special attention to people who need support, the first obstacle to a comfortable arrival and departure for everyone would already have been overcome.

special-needs-boom
Special Needs, Boom 2016

On the festival area

Everybody has a need, so adapted toilets near the floors are of course essential. Sanitary facilities such as these should appear on the site plan, which is already the case at many large-scale events. But couldn’t we do much more by simple methods?
Plane paths, ramps, if smaller obstacles have to be bridged, and low counters at the bars enormously help many handicapped people already.

Furthermore, a shuttle service on spacious grounds comes in handy in order to make sure that handicapped people arrive on time for their next favourite act – and, if there are any concerns, safely return them to the camping site. But so far that’s only ever the case at Boom.

Camping for people with special needs

Camping is also part of the festival fun. A special camping site next to adapted showers and toilets is a must-have for events that run several days.
This is the case at the Fusion Festival, for example. In such a camp, a contact person has to be available 24 hours a day and know the special needs of the campers.

The fact that there is a place where temperature-sensitive medication can be stored in the refrigerator should also be taken into account when organizing a camp. A power supply is absolutely necessary, especially for visitors with severe disabilities who are dependent on respiratory equipment or other devices.
The paramedics who are already on site are very familiar with questions such as these.

Contact

The opportunity to get information about accessibility can make things easier and prevent misunderstandings. In order to plan a festival stay with a handicap well in advance, one should contact the event organiser by e-mail or telephone in advance. The New Healing Festival is a real role model here. Customer service in the form of a hotline or an infomail address is therefore the key when it comes to the topic of accessibility at festivals. In addition, contact persons and trained personnel should be easy to find on site.

All jokes aside – the community must replace the ignorance

We have to admit that there are also things that cannot be easily arranged in advance. Rain, wind and bad weather in general often push all festival goers and the creators to their limits. At many events in far-off industrial locations or in the countryside, the infrastructure simply doesn’t provide adequate paved pathways. For people with disabilities, there will remain obstacles preventing a perfect solution in the future, with the exception of the fact that everyone can get involved.
And another thing is often forgotten: People with disabilities sometimes still get a funny look in the club or at the open-air party as to whether we agree for the most part that we are “one big family”. At the New Healing Festival and the Fusion in Germany or the Portuguese Boom Festival this is luckily a thing of the past.

Not only does the festivals have the required infrastructure for guests with disabilities – old people, pregnant women and families will find the right setting for celebrating, listening to music, experiencing each other and having fun just like everyone else. We owe this to the event organisers, but also to the commitment of the visitors themselves. And it demonstrates that we could achieve a lot through working together in a spirit of relaxation and with a little extra effort.

>We are eager to celebrate individuality and pluralism this festival summer 2019!<