So yesterday I was reading the news, something I try to do at least every other day, when I came across a story which I felt I needed to comment on. Now I have always considered myself a bit of an advocate for disabilities particularly mental health, part of this is because I am disabled myself, I suffer from PTSD, Epilepsy and I also have some hearing difficulties, its hard to explain but essentially there is nothing wrong with either ear but my brain doesn't register the sound entering one ear, sometimes what I hear through this ear is muffled and sometimes I simply cant hear anything at all, sometimes its even worse than that and I can hear horrid buzzing and static. So usually you would think that I would have the back of anyone with a disability but right now I am actually about to call a disabled person an idiot, a money grabbing idiot at that, so I thought I should clarify that I am not a healthy person playing lets laugh at the impaired here.
Sometime last year, a woman called Sally Reynolds bought six tickets to see Little Mix in concert on the 1st of September at the South of England Event Center in
Sussex. Now this Lady is deaf and so are two of her friends who she booked tickets for and their daughters who are all able to hear.
Well Sally decided that she wanted to enjoy it as much as anyone else and well technically due to the law or to be precise the Equality Act of 2010 this was her right. The law states that any organization supplying a service to the
public is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a
disabled person's experience is as close as possible to that of someone
without a disability. OK so this law sounds brilliant in principle, it sounds like something I would usually really get behind. So what did Sally want? Well she asked the organizers, LHG Live, to provide a British Sign Language
She was initially offered carer tickets and told
that she could bring her own interpreter, but she didn't consider that
met her needs or amounted to full access. OK so I can sort of understand this its not like all of us have a go to interpreter who is totally up for dropping whatever they have going on to run to music concerts with us.
Apparently she asked two or three times, if they could please provide an interpreter and got told no with no explanation provided. She argued that she wanted to share the same experience her daughter was going to have and that she just wanted access to the songs. OK well this is strike one on the dumb-ometer even if your were the same age, sex, race, gender, intelligence bracket etcetera you are never going to have the same experience as someone else, we all experience different things in different ways, having someone wave there hands and visually explain the songs will not no matter how good it is be the same experience. Still some people will say I am being a bit pedantic here and that I know what she means but with the way the law is worded this very well could be something that gets talked about in court.
With just days to go before the concert, and no interpreter in place, Sally decided to instruct lawyers to apply for a court injunction to force
LHG Live to provide a British Sign Language interpreter. It worked. Hours before the hearing was due to take place, LHG Live agreed. When they got to the concert
when Little Mix took to the stage their lyrics were interpreted by a specialist interpreter from the company
Performance Interpreting. However, the concert had started with two supporting acts and the interpreter had not been booked to cover them.
OK so lets hear a little bit of what Sally had to say about it all "I
felt that we were really part of the Little Mix experience, but because it was so good I realized that we had missed out on
the first two acts.''.... "So it was very much a disparity of experience compared with everyone else. We only got access to the last act. If you went to a film can you imagine only getting access to the last 20 minutes? "We had paid for our tickets like everyone else." OK again I am going to nit pick here, no it is nothing like going to see a film and only getting access to the last twenty minutes, what the other people did had no connection to Little Mix, it wasn't a continuation of what had gone before. Occasionally an opening act is the absolute dogs bollocks and is better than the person you have gone to, the person you have paid for but a lot of the time they are simply just filler. Also you need to consider who is paying for the interpretor and the equipment needed etcetera, if its coming out of Little Mix's money or the places money fair enough they can very easily afford it but if its coming out of Little Mix's pot can we really expect all minor acts to actually realistically be able to afford to provide these sort of things?.
So what did LHG Live have to say about it all? Well lets look at some quotes from them "We received a request from Sally Reynolds to supply an interpreter.
consulted with her recommended agency and agreed to provide the
professional interpreter of her choice for the Little Mix show. "This included specific staging and lighting, and a set list in advance." LHG
Live also provided upgraded tickets, access to private accessible
toilets and all public announcements on giant screens either side of the
main stage. OK so to me it sounds like they actually did quiet a lot for her especially seeing as they did it with no pay for it, lets face it they paid the single regular ticket prices and because of the law they got a whole bunch of extra stuff for the same money.
Sally Reynolds is now issuing legal proceedings for
the failure to make reasonable adjustments, in the form of supplying an
interpreter, for the whole concert. Her solicitor Chris Fry, managing partner of Fry Law, believes the action shines a light on a wider point. "People with sensory impairment actually want to attend musical and sporting events just as anybody else does," he says.
"The fact that you have a hearing impairment or sight loss doesn't mean that you don't want to be at the event. "So it is important that venues and promoters recognise that the legal duties to make reasonable adjustments extend to them. "It is an important way of making society more inclusive."
For Cate (Sally's daughter) though, it's all much simpler. "Sometimes my mum doesn't get to have the experience to go to places because sometimes there aren't interpreters," she says. "I really love my mum, and I want her to come to the concerts with me." OK something that needs saying here Sally your kids should be more important than you, have you stopped to think that your bitching and whining about this actually hurt your daughters enjoyment of this experience? Most parents will attend shit that they really have no desire to attend, listen to music they'd sooner cut there ears off than listen to. I went to see a film in 3D that my daughter really wanted to see despite the fact that with my messed up brain the 3D made my brain hurt like hell and actually made me feel ill for hours afterwards, did I moan and cry and demand that 3D be somehow reworked so that it didn't hurt my brain (Apparently there are about 20% or so of people who simply cant deal with 3D, I am probably wrong on the exact figures but I don't want to go all research master here)? No I let her enjoy it, I hid how I felt and actually put my daughters enjoyment and her feelings ahead of my own. This is what I do 99% of the time this is what a good parent usually does. Also I think it needs pointing out that yeah the event organizer wasn't exactly quick to help you, and yes it might have taken a legal threat to get them off of there butts in the first place but they actually did quiet a lot in the end to try and help you enjoy the show so having a response to this which basically equals turning around and spitting in there face for it is pretty much a dick move in my books.
What the law says is that there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a
disabled person's experience is as close as possible to that of someone
without a disability. I don't personally consider a company or band having to spend mountains and mountains of cash on one or a small group of people to be reasonable in this case they provided specific staging and lighting, a set list in advance, upgraded tickets (at no extra cost), access to private accessible
toilets and giant screens either side of the
main stage just for these people to enhance there enjoyment of the show. I suffer from something called Vacancy's where I can go blank for periods of time, OK so if I attended a Little Mix concert should I have the legal right to demand they re-sing the last 30 seconds of song because I blanked out and missed it? Where does it all end?
OK yes Little Mix and this big ass venue company can afford to lay on piles and piles of extra stuff for someone who health wise is at a disadvantage, and it is great to help people where you can but there needs to be limits to it and this could make some dangerous precedents. If this lady wins then technically people could go around demanding sign interpretors at any gig, well fair enough for mega stars but what about poor sods who play to like 50 people in a pub at most its not like there going to be able to afford to provide a TV and a song listening and an interpretor without going into the red is it?
I think the lady involved is and has been using her disability to try and get all she can get and actually paints the disabled in a bad light, it runs the risk of making people actually think ''oh shit'' when someone disabled wants to attend there show.