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Keeping Community Accessible

As the vibrant hues of spring bloom and we ease into the balmy days of summer, the air becomes abuzz with the excitement of festival season. Music, art, and cultural festivals offer a unique tapestry of experiences, bringing together diverse communities in celebration and appreciation. Yet, as we revel in these gatherings, it’s crucial to pause and reflect on an important aspect that often goes overlooked: inclusivity, particularly for the Deaf community.

The Essence of Inclusivity in Festivals

Inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the cornerstone of community building. It ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has the opportunity to participate fully in societal and cultural events. For the Deaf community, this means having access to the same experiences as hearing attendees. As festival organizers, performers, and attendees, we have a collective responsibility to ensure our events are accessible and welcoming to all.

Why Interpreters are Vital

One significant way to make events inclusive for the Deaf community is by providing sign language interpreters. These professionals do more than just translate words; they bridge the gap between different modes of communication, ensuring that the Deaf community can fully engage with the performances.

Having an interpreter on-site at your event is a powerful statement. It shows that you care about the Deaf community and recognize their right to participate fully in cultural experiences. It’s a step towards dismantling the barriers that have historically excluded them from such events.

Proactive Inclusion is Key

The burden of requesting accommodations should not fall on individuals with disabilities. It’s time for event planners and organizers to be proactive in their approach to inclusivity. This means automatically including sign language interpreters in the planning and budgeting phases of events. By doing so, we send a clear message: everyone is welcome here, and we’ve taken steps to ensure you can enjoy this event to its fullest.

The Impact of Inclusive Events

When events are inclusive, they do more than just cater to a wider audience; they enrich the experience for everyone involved. Attendees of all abilities can share in the joy and excitement, fostering a sense of unity and understanding. For the Deaf community, seeing an interpreter on stage is not just about accessibility; it’s a sign of respect and acknowledgment of their presence in the wider community.

Building Stronger Communities Through Inclusion

Inclusion is not just about physical presence; it’s about feeling seen, heard, and valued. By making our events accessible to the Deaf community, we’re taking a vital step in building stronger, more cohesive communities. We’re acknowledging the diversity of experiences and perspectives that make our society rich and vibrant.

A Call to Action

As we gear up for the festival season, let’s commit to making our events as inclusive as possible. This means engaging with the Deaf community, understanding their needs, and taking concrete steps to meet them. It’s about more than just compliance with accessibility laws; it’s about creating a space where everyone, regardless of their hearing ability, can come together and celebrate in unison.

Let’s use this festival season as an opportunity to set a new standard for inclusivity. Let’s show the world that when we say “everyone is welcome,” we truly mean it. Let’s create events that aren’t just memorable for their performances, but also for their warmth, acceptance, and inclusivity.

Planning for inclusive events with the Deaf community is not just a kind gesture; it’s a necessity. It’s a testament to our commitment to creating a world where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy the beauty of shared experiences. As we embrace the festival season, let’s do so with an open heart and a willingness to make our events a welcoming space for all.


By Dave Coyne

First published on February 28, 2024.

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Gateway connects people to their worlds and aids individuals in their ability to understand and to be understood. Gateway has grown into an organization that serves more than 4,000 children and adults every year, helping them communicate more effectively. With programming both on our Baltimore campus and through community-based programming, we provide education, access, and medical support to anyone who needs it.

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