Creating an Accessible Campsite

The State of Access Report 2016 found that 1 in 5 camping festivals don’t have a dedicated accessible campsite, meaning Deaf and Disabled music fans are often locked out of the festival experience.

While the ideal at festivals is that disabled customers are afforded the same options as any other customers, and that access is created throughout the site, many festivals find that the best way to provide good camping access is to create a dedicated ‘accessible campsite’ with full access facilities.

Who should stay and when?

Festivals are a social experience, and therefore we recommend that disabled people are allowed to be accompanied by a minimum of 3 friends/Personal Assistants. If you have space for more than this, be sure everyone is aware of the need to respect the access facilities and maintain routes etc.

Additionally, if you offer separate family camping we advise you to place accessible facilities there also to provide choice to customers with children.

If you operate an Early Bird policy for campers, it may constitute discrimination under the Equality Act to deny this option due to access requirements; therefore the policy should extend to the accessible campsite.

Parking

Consider the access route from the accessible parking to the campsite. Parking can be advertised as accessible if it is either within, adjacent to, or as close as possible to the accessible campsite.

If the parking is away from the campsite, best practice is to allow customers to drop off belongings before parking, if possible. In lieu of or combined with this, we recommend having stewards available to assist with the carrying of bags and putting up tents.

Layout and Location

Accessible campsites should be as close to the arena as possible,  with the route being step-free. If multiple routes are an option, allow customers choice, informing them, for example, of a steeper but shorter route and also of a longer route with level access.

In addition to standard fire lanes, provide access lanes 1.2m wide throughout the campsite to maximise the accessible locations that people can utilise.

Trip Hazards and Lighting

Ensure that all potholes in the campsite are filled in advance of customers arriving, that festival tent guide-ropes in the vicinity are clearly colour contrasted, and that any other unnecessary ground-surface trip hazards are addressed.

Any Information or Charging tents should have overnight lighting as standard. In addition to this, consider lighting around water points and toilets; best practice would be for lighting to be installed inside individual accessible toilets, as this is an access requirement for many.

Electricity and Campervans

If possible, give customers the option of parking in the accessible campsite instead of in the campervan area, so they have access to accessible facilities. If this is not possible, equivalent facilities must be placed in the campervan area.

Access to electricity, meanwhile, is a key part of making a campsite accessible. You should aim to provide pre-bookable power supplies to tents or vans for customers requiring a personal fridge etc.

Non-bookable facilities include Charging Points for power wheelchairs and other access equipment within a sheltered and lit location (typically a tent). The number of these should reflect the number of booked customers.

Medication Storage

Camping festivals should have 24 hours / day facilities for the refrigerated storage of medication; this is often in Welfare or First Aid tents but if the main festival medication storage location is unavoidably far from the accessible campsite every effort must be made to provide a secondary location to ensure that customers can gain ready access to their medication.

Signage

We recommend clear signage for all entrances and exits, as well as to indicate access facilities – Access Routes, Info Tent, Charging Point, Water, Toilets, and Showers.

Toilets and Showers

A variety of toilets should be provided in the campsite, with at least one which is able to accommodate users of large motorised scooters/wheelchairs. If the numbers of accessible facilities are limited, be sure to provide standard toilet units for the use of friends and PAs of disabled people. You should also consider how a Changing Places toilet might be incorporated within the campsite.

Accessible shower facilities should also be provided, preferably with hot water options. As with toilets, having standard showers also available frees up accessible units for those who need them.

Accessible Water Points

Ensure that there is an accessible water point in the campsite. The minimum provision would be a stand pipe positioned with a tap height of no higher than 1m, however having raised sinks is the more accessible option by far.

Regardless of whether a stand pipe or sink is provided, a standard twist tap is preferable to a push top tap as the force required and the time the water runs can make them difficult to use for those with certain impairments.

Information Tent

A useful addition to an accessible campsite, providing information about the site and its access as well as acting as a conduit for information about changes and situations on site and giving customers a place to go with questions or concerns.

Security and Stewarding

The entrances/exits to the campsite should be stewarded as necessary to ensure the security of access facilities and Deaf and disabled customers. In addition, it is advisable to have stewards available to help people carry their belongings onto the campsite and also to aid in putting up tents.

It is essential that these stewards receive basic Disability Awareness training and are briefed on all access facilities and polices on site.

Late Night Access

It is essential to anticipate that customers are likely to partake in any activity on site, including late-night activities after main arenas have closed. Therefore it is crucial to plan for how those customers can easily navigate back to their campsite; this might involve allowing those with accessible campsite wristbands to use certain routes at night.

Additional Services

You may also wish to consider what other services can be brought to customers in the accessible campsite. These may include programme sellers entering the campsite, food and drink stands being present within the campsite, and perhaps even bespoke services that could bring an otherwise inaccessible part of the festival to customers, such as massage and meditation activities.