UBC Graduate Research

UBC Nightlife Events : Accessibility Oakunsheyld, Andrea; Vissers, Jake; Kew, Jonathan; Heinen, Alexandra


Our team worked in collaboration with UBC SEEDS to examine how we could make campus nightlife more accessible to those with disabilities. We initially based our inquiry on the evaluation of accessibility and equity guidelines for event programming at UBC (with a focus on nightlife). We chose to adopt an inclusive interpretation of disabilities to capture a breadth of peoples. We also employed a community-based research methodology to capture the myriad factors which make events inaccessible on-campus. To inform our research, we conducted a literature review of media articles and existing events guidelines. The literature demonstrates that accessibility considerations are frequently sidetracked, mentioned in passing, or even excluded from the events programming framework. With a particular focus on barriers and recommendations for events, we produced a survey and designed interview questions. We developed a promotional campaign to recruit interviewees who identified as having a disability. While the survey was unsuccessful, interviews yielded substantial findings and numerous recommendations. After transcribing and coding these interviews, we were able to identify two major themes that encompass barriers to nightlife programming: physical barriers and attitudinal barriers. The former comprises inaccessible infrastructure and obstructions, the latter comprises lack of consideration and ignorance. This heuristic provides insight into the commonalities that make events inaccessible, despite the particularity of any single person’s disability. Our project’s limitations include the relatively small pool of research participants and a narrow window of opportunity to collect data. Because of the seeming lack of precedent partnership with communities accessibility advocates, finding a club, collective, or network was a major challenge. As such, the majority of our interviewees were graduate students. Our recommendations make clear the breadth of infrastructural, programmatic, and training strategies and guidelines to make events accessible — many recommendations being immediately actionable. The recommendations include categories for visual impairment, mobility, organizing structures, logistics, social dynamics, hearing and non-verbal conditions, and light- and sound-sensitive conditions. We believe that by assuming a critical approach to the evaluation of disability and accessibility, we can design events which are, really, more accessible for all. This extends to wayfinding, inclusive web platforms, emergency considerations, consistent pathways for access and exit, stronger social environments, technological upgrades, and more. From a planning perspective, these guidelines and policies will produce cumulative goods. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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