International Arts Festival Prepares For Access Law
March 15, 2004
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND--Organizers of the world's largest annual arts festival are worried that a disability rights law could limit the number of facilities festival-goers can use.
Last August, the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe sold nearly 1.2 million tickets for participants to access displays, shows and activities at 207 separate venues.
Many of those venues were not designed to allow wheelchair users to come in, however, or for blind patrons to exit quickly in case of an emergency.
Venue owners and festival managers are currently planning how they will make their sites accessible to all visitors next year. That's because in October, the third stage of the country's 1995 Disabilities Discrimination Act becomes effective, requiring all public buildings to be free of physical barriers to accessibility -- as far as is "reasonable".
"The best thing that they've done is thought about it well in advance," Stewart Coulter, director of ADAPT (Access for Disabled People to Arts Premises Today) Trust told The Scotsman. "I'm hoping venues won't have to close, that they will find ways to cope."
"Disability laws threaten venues" (The Scotsman)
Disabled Access (www.edfringe.com: official site of the edinburgh festival fringe)