Hello readers! (long post this week as I combine week 1 and 2 together into one post!) In the last two weeks since school has started, I have been diving right into my major project: Assessible Festivals.
This week is made up of a lot of researching and discovering in which direction I would like to take this project.
Over the first week, I was able to attend Folk Fest at Hog's Back Park in Ottawa. This was a great introduction to the upcoming year, and getting a feel for what festivals are all about! By the end of the night as I was leaving, I stumbled onto the Accessible and Information Desk! (This was located outside of the event, and for a first time goer to Folk Fest, I didn't know it existed until I left) Luckily, I had the opportunity to talk with a lovely lady who volunteer with the A-Team! This volunteer has been helping at the folk fest for 20 years! (that's incredible!) From our conversations, I was able to see her love for this festival, her appreciation for its growth and changes over the last 20 years as this festival becomes more and more inclusive! One of the key areas she mentioned was the general acceptance and respect of the public towards those who are differently-abled.
During our conversation, what stuck with me was something that was mentioned about training for the A-team. "Don't assume they (differently-abled) need more help than they do" and the difference between being a helpful volunteer (who assist the different abled in accomplishing their task) and a friendly volunteer (someone who completes the task for them). The helpful volunteer is much more desirable, and I think it reflects an attitude of respect.
My hopes is to somehow attend a traning or orientation on accessibility when it comes to festivals. This may be difficult as signing up for volunteering at festivals are done quite in advance, so I need to start looking for opportunities to get some first hand experience!
On Friday (9/13/2013) we were able to meet up with Dean Mellway from the READ initiative at Carleton, and Barry Mcmahon from the NCC's/Advisory Committee on Universal Accessibility. This meeting gave a real first hand testimony to their experiences with festivals and what they would hope to see in transforming the festivals to be increasingly inclusive. Many things stood out during this conversation that I haven't considered before.
1. Festivals are events to be enjoyed collectivly, with whomever you are with, any thing within the festival that brings division, segregation are undersirable. At this point, I see festivals as entertainment and enjoyment for everyone within the community - and anything that hinders this goal is depricating the value of the event.
2. Application of our design for festival - due to the travelling nature of festivals, It has been brought to my attention that whatever I design can have applications that goes beyond festivals. (example: disaster relief) . Thus, it is also important to also consider the storage and shipping.
3. Assembly structure: Like I mentioned previosuly, festivals travels, and stages are elaborate structure made from prexisting systems (like Trilights). This gets me thinking, why are other elements like food vendors or washroom not made from the same elements. This requires some research into costs and the practicality of setting up verses shipping a prexisting structure. Since setting up requires a lot more time and accuracy, where as shipping requires a truck and a final desitination.
On the research side: Well... it's been a little "interesting" finding where to even BEGIN the research, been making mind maps this morning on possible researching leads. I am hoping to get a broad idea in understanding accessibility and festivals before studying it in further details!