Local charity founder Euan MacDonald visits the Fringe in recognition of efforts to improve access and inclusion for disabled festival-goers.

The charity, Euan’s Guide, and its Ambassadors have observed improvements to access provision while enjoying the city’s summer festivals this year. Now in its third year, the Accessible Edinburgh Festivals Award celebrates the accessibility and inclusivity of venues associated with Edinburgh’s major festivals

The 2018 winners have been announced as the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Best Pop-up Venue), the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (Best Venue) and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society (Spirit of Inclusion Award).

A huge accolade from the charity is the Spirit of Inclusion Award. This was presented to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society for the work they have done to improve access to the world’s largest arts festival. Euan’s Guide commended Fringe staff, adoption of the Welcome App at Box Offices, accessible viewing spaces at street performances, sensory backpacks and the behind the scenes work that has been done with live music charity Attitude is Everything. The return of the pop-up Changing Places toilet was also praised.

 

Paul Ralph, Access and Inclusion Director at Euan’s Guide said:

“Once again it is great to see Edinburgh’s Festivals raise the bar on their welcome for disabled people, their friends and families. Particularly exciting this summer has been the focus on invisible impairments and initiatives like the Book Festival’s badges for folk requiring a little extra help, the amazing sensory backpacks from the Fringe Society and the Easy Read publications.

"On the access front it was exceptional to see both the Fringe Society and Book Festival provide Changing Places Toilets making such a difference to so many people and families.

"My favourite ‘discovery’ this year has to be the magic carpets at the street performances. A simple yet fabulous way to provide dedicated viewing spots for wheelchair users and others who might not otherwise see the street performances.”

 

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

“Removing barriers to attending the Fringe, so that anyone who wants to take part in this amazing festival can, is a key priority for the Fringe Society. We are thrilled to receive the Spirit of Inclusion Award from Euan’s Guide for the initiatives we have introduced to improve accessibility at the Fringe. Over the last two years, 33 Fringe venues have completed our Venue Access Award, developed in partnership with the charity Attitude is Everything.

"The award provides venues with a minimum standard of accessibility to aim for and offers different levels of achievement. In 2018, we placed accessibility at the heart of the redevelopment of the Virgin Money Street Events, introducing dedicated viewing areas for those with access needs, fully accessible stages, BSL interpreted performances, and sensory backpacks for children and adults on the autism spectrum. While there is always more work to be done to make the Fringe as accessible as possible, it’s an honour to be recognised by Euan’s Guide for the work that we have done to date.”