In Arts and Culture, Sexuality

Whether it’s catching a local music festival, marching or rallying for a cause, or navigating a bustling street fair, crowded events can be stressful for people with disabilities. We compiled a list of things to consider before, during, and after attending an outdoor event to help make your experience as stress-free—and safe—as possible. 

Marches, Street Festivals, and Parades: Top Accessibility Tips for Navigating Crowded Celebrations

Please note: While we have tried to consider as many aspects of events within the community and outdoor spaces as possible, we in no way presume these tips cover everything that may arise when trying to access events. We strongly suggest you do your own research before heading out to any community event. (And don’t forget the sunscreen!)

Before the Event

For individuals with a spinal cord injury or related disability, it can be harder to regulate your body temperature. It’s always a good idea to plan for the weather and specific location! Think about the area of a city you will be at or passing by for the event. Is it near a body of water? What time of year is it? Are gusts of wind to be expected? Will it be in the sweltering heat? If you think ahead of these environmental factors, it may be a lot easier to plan your clothing choices and avoid temperature-related issues.

Consider researching the accessibility of the event ahead of time. Some events that involve walking for periods of time (i.e. marches, protests, parades) operate an accessible vehicle for folks with mobility issues. Some events, such as performances or parades, have designated accessible viewing areas for disabled attendees and their friends. Many events do list their accessibility features on their websites or Facebook event pages. If you have trouble finding the info feel free to reach out to them directly via email or phone! You can typically find this on the event website.

If taking transit, it’s always helpful to look up your available route(s) ahead of time. This can save some of the confusion when trying to find a bus stop through a large crowd of people.If driving to the event, find out where the accessible parking spots nearest to your destination are.

Charge your phone fully (and your power chair) before heading out to the event in case you get separated from anyone you are with and need to find them in the crowd. Your phone is also very valuable if you need to find alternate driving or transit routes due to unexpected changes that can occur the day of!

During the Event

Once you’re at the event, it may be beneficial to locate any accessible areas right away to ensure you can find them later on in the day or if it gets uncomfortably busy. Some events only offer accessible spaces on a first come, first serve basis so it never hurts to be early.

Ensure you have plenty of water with you or available nearby, and don’t forget your wallet! If you have trouble regulating your temperature due to SCI, you may want to ensure you have a plan for any overheating that could occur. Know where to find shade, potential indoor escapes, and the nearest place for a cold drink!

Check if there’s an accessible bathroom that works for your specific needs. Make sure you know where the bathroom is, and enjoy all the drinks your heart (and bladder!) could want. What if the bathroom isn’t really accessible, or there isn’t one whatsoever? In this unfortunate case, it will take more planning on your part to base your time around this. You could try to find another bathroom nearby the area you are spending your time at, or plan your need to use a bathroom around the time to go home.

After the Event

You may wish to consider leaving the event early to have an easier time getting back to your mode of transportation and avoiding traffic. While this may not be ideal, it can save you a lot of trouble with the crowds or traffic jams when everyone decides to leave all at once.

Know the easiest route out of the area. It might sound simple, but once you’re amongst huge numbers of people, it can become disorienting to find your way while also avoiding peoples’ toes and other confused passers-by.

Upcoming Pride Events Around British Columbia

Sunday, August 5, 2018
12pm – 3pm

Accessibility Info: There are two accessible Pride Parade viewing areas. The main one is located on the North side of Beach Ave at Broughton. This space features accessible port-a-potties, and a shaded viewing area with chairs and space for mobility devices. Expect ASL interpretation of parade commentary, a live description (by VocalEye) of the parade for those with vision loss, and on-site volunteers available to assist you. A secondary accessible viewing area, located outside of Denman Place Mall, contains a shaded viewing area with chairs.

When: Saturday, August 4, 2018
Time: 12pm – 5pm
Where: The march begins at McSpadden Park and ends at Grandview Park for a Festival

Accessibility Info: Anyone using a mobility device is invited to lead the march/set the pace behind the Rainbow Concert Band that heads the march. Marshals at the beginning of the parade will ensure the pace is kept.

When: Friday, August 3, 2018
Time: 6:45pm
Where: March begins at Clark Park (Commercial x 14th) and ends at Victoria Park (Victoria x Grant)

Accessibility Info: Marchers with mobility issues are asked to go to the front to set the pace. (Marshals will ensure no one gets behind.) Wheelchairs users who can’t/don’t want to march, can ride in a specially-rented accessible van and be transported to the celebration at the end of the march. At the celebration park, there are accessible bathrooms.

Many cities outside of Vancouver host Pride events as well, and some take place at other times of year. For up to date information, check out the Pride websites for the following locations:

New Westminster 
Fraser Valley 
White Rock
Sunshine Coast
North Island
Alberni Valley
Powell River
Salt Spring 
Prince George
South Okanagan Similkameen
Fort St John
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