The Evolution of Deaf Access at Latitude, Reading and Leeds

Posted on 30.06.2016

The Evolution of Deaf Access at Latitude, Reading and Leeds

Over the last few years, Festival Republic have worked with us and volunteer-run BSL interpreting services to make some of their biggest festivals – Reading, Leeds and Latitude – more accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing customers. These festivals have implemented many of our recommendations for making live music events more Deaf-friendly, from hearing loops at accessible wristband exchanges, to free personal assistant tickets for those who need communication support. Due to these provisions, there are now significant numbers of Deaf customers attending the festivals.

One particularly exciting development has been the introduction of BSL interpretation for live music and spoken word performances at these festivals, enabling Deaf customers to have equal access to the performance. We heard from some of the interpreting team about the evolution of Deaf access at Festival Republic events and what facilities will be in place this year.

Dave was involved with the first ever BSL performance interpreting provision at the Leeds Festival: “A small team of us came together at the very last moment to offer some access to Deaf festival goers enjoying the headline acts there. Organised by Performance Interpreting and with the fantastic support of Jon and his Festival Republic team we were able to get some of our interpreting onto the big screen – Wow!”

Carole runs Hands4U, the BSL interpretation service at Latitude. She praises Festival Republic for being “very supportive in allowing our volunteer team, led by customer feedback, to build and grow an inclusive service for Deaf Sign Language users attending Latitude. This has enabled better equal access and negates the need for a separate area for deaf customers, allowing deaf and hearing friends and family to enjoy the festival together.”

Providing these services can make a big difference to Deaf customers’ festival experience. Will is deaf and long time festival-goer, who first went to Leeds aged 11. He says he is “excited to witness and experience growing opportunities for deaf and disabled fans to enjoy music and the arts, and to allow them to feel part of something special, witnessing an incredible live performance and feeling like they truly belong there as well as the other thousands of people. That is equality at its best, and I am excited for what the future will bring."

This year, Latitude, Reading and Leeds will be offering:

  • Hearing loops at accessible wristband exchanges
  • PA tickets for communication support
  • Use of accessible campsite with 24 hour lit information tent, to give people who sign a place to chat in the evening

Additionally, at Latitude there will be:

  • Hearing loops in Comedy, Poetry and Literary tents
  • A long-standing BSL interpretation service run by Hands4U – offering programmed and upon-request interpretation as well as customer service support
  • Requests can be made both in advance and during the festival (subject to availability)

Reading and Leeds will have:

  • A BSL service for headline acts and other music events
  • Requests can be made both in advance and during the festivals (subject to availability)

Find out more on the access information pages for each festival: