Less than a third of top UK music venues put on events for people with learning disabilities, a survey has revealed.
Ahead of New Year’s Eve, learning disability charity Mencap polled 100 top UK music venues. Of the 60 that replied just 28% held events for people with a learning disability.
One in 4 people with a learning disability spend less than an hour a day outside their homes and social exclusion is a real issue for many. People with a learning disability may need more support to participate in common leisure activities such as going to a gig or a nightclub. These venues are often intimidating places and ticketing websites can be inaccessible, while the way support workers hours are arranged by local authorities means social workers can’t always support people late at night.
Some of the venues that responded put on club nights specifically for a learning disability audience that allow carers in free, start well before 9pm, are signed up to the GigBuddies scheme – a project that pairs up people with and without learning disabilities in Sussex to be friends and to go to events together – and are created in an environment that people with a learning disability will find less intimidating.
But Mencap’s poll showed they are in the minority. Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said: “Although we know of music venues becoming more inclusive to people with a learning disability, it is still hard to find events that have made adjustments to ensure all people are able to enjoy them. Young people with a learning disability want to socialise and have a good time as much as anyone else, yet the opportunities aren’t always there.
“There are 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability so this is a huge audience being overlooked and with a few small adjustments these music venues could allow people with a learning disability to live their lives how they choose and access their local entertainment facilities.”
As part of the poll Mencap interviewed a number of its Young Ambassadors – young people with a learning disability aged 16-25 who challenge negative perceptions of learning disability via their own life experiences – to discuss why they feel music venues are inaccessible to them.
Zoe, 22, who has a learning disability and is one of Mencap’s Young Ambassadors, said: “I’m 22 years of age and want to have the opportunities to experience life in the same way as everyone else. All my friends get to go to see their favourite bands and have fun in the evenings. Having a learning disability means sometimes this isn’t possible due to not getting the support. Some venues put on accessible nights and I want to see more of this. Why should I be missing out on all the fun?”