this is a letter i wrote to James Barnum, Coachella's ADA Coordinator yesterday, hoping to make things better for us cripples at Coachella this year. If anyone, disabled or non-disabled, would like to add anything, please feel free to chime in and maybe together we can accomplish something. I have taken out my name & email to anonymise myself
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Subject: ADA viewing platforms
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:13:16 -0700
I would like to express my gratitude for the great strides that you have made to Coachella's ADA access program Having attended Coachella for the past four years, I have seen great improvements in the access program. Each year the viewing platforms for wheelchair users have gotten better and better. 2008 saw the addition of viewing platforms to the three performance tents (Gobi, Mojave and Sahara). This made wheelchair users feel so much more included in the experience of the festival. I've also noticed that over the years the conditions and placement of the platforms at the two outdoor stages have improved.
The only possible improvements that I think could be made to Coachella's access program are relatively minor, but there are a few. I was very grateful and wheelchair platforms were added to the tents in 2008. However, the platforms were situated at the outskirts of the tents. This has two negative effects. First, because the platforms are at the back of the tents, wheelchair users do not feel like they are part of the great thing that is the "crowd". Secondly, because the platforms are positioned at the outskirts of the tents, and because the crowds therein face east, the people on the platforms are the first to get it by the sun and, therefore, wheelchair users and their companions are subject to a greater risk of sunburn and other damage caused by exposure to the sun.
Last year, I attended the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN. Laura Grunfeld, Bonnaroo's Access Coordinator has solved both of the aforementioned problems by placing the viewing platforms near the middle of the tents, next to the sound mixing areas. This solves the first problem because it makes wheelchairs feel like they're part of the crowd, since in the middle of it instead of at the very back. The second problem is solved because, as wheelchair users and their companions are placed in the middle of the tent, there are no greater risk of sunburn than the average non-disabled festival goer. Laura has made the full inclusion of disabled people at events such as these are life's work. Her company, Everyone's Invited (www.everyonesinvited.com handles access at all types of events and corporate functions. If you would like to consult her about improvements that can be made to Coachella to access program, her e-mail is Laura@EveryonesInvited.com. Because of the placement of the ADA viewing platforms in the 3 tents, I, as a wheelchair user, found Bonnaroo to be on all around more enjoyable experience than Coachella.
Please let me know if any improvements will be made to Coachella's access program this year regarding the placement of ADA viewing platforms in the Gobi, Mohave and Sahara tents.
Thanks and keep up the good work,