The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #13940   Message #118227
Posted By:
27-Sep-99 - 06:20 PM
Thread Name: Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans
Subject: RE: Ethical Question-Handicapped Fans-Two
I copied this over from the previous thread as a reply to Barry's question. I didn't realize there was a new thread at the time. Sorry all.

Barry,

I think we need to understand who is disabled firstly. Disability knows no single type or severity. Some people, many infact are profoundly involved and yet show no outward signs of disability. People with arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, amputations, hearing disorders, low vision, autism, bipolar disorders, downs syndrome... the list is endless. People who act out in public assemblies aren't always disabled. Some of them are just jerks.

I would include people with disabilities from the start in a concert setting. Thats the nature of inclusion. Inclusion at it's best insists that everyone come to the show. But there in is the rub. The nature of inclusion has some how come to mean that some people deserve special and preferential treatment at the expense of others. This was not the intent of the whole inclusive movement or the ADA. The purpose of inclusion as well as the ADA is level the playing field so everyone has not just a chance but an equal chance. Being a part of the greater group means you live by the same rules as the group in so far as a resonable accomodation allows. A resonable accommodation may be a wheelchair ramp, close up parking for some, an FM ear plug for the people with low hearing, a sign language specialist or an interpreter (sp?). A resonable accomodation is not allowing one person to interfere with the enjoyment of an evening for a few dozen, a hundred people? This is contrary to common sense as well as the best educated training that a person with these special needs requires. I volunteer my performing time many times through a year to many organizations who support the disabled population of Central New York. I would never take my children to a performance that they could and would have interrupted until they reach an age and training level of personal responsibility. Thats the job of the community living specialist in the disabilities community. To help that population enter the world at large and they do an excellent job of it. My feeling was that in case mentioned the descision was made too soon in the case of the one individual. Its not the end of the world. Maybe a little more training and the next time is a charm.

Here is where I speak serious treason with regards to my field of work. There some people who will never be able to be included. And for a variety of reasons. Uncotrollable tempers, extreme autism, uncontrollable schizophrenia, incredible allergies, too reliant on technical life support, and other list of endless possibility. But we don't forget them. If we can't bring them to the show, its our responsibility,the carring populations, to bring the show to them.

Perhaps as a music community we need to come to terms ourselves as to how we as performers can best help in this effort. Either as designers of programs for going into schools and group homes to address the cultural needs of this population. Not to further shut them in but to offer the experience of live performance in a setting that is not hostile or distracting. Once the experience is made comfortable to people with disabilities then maybe the next move is to bring them to the concert hall.

I'm willing to work on any project that promotes folk music for the whole communinty. Not just the generally accepted majority. Don