Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has announced that for the first time, the parade will be accessible to those who are blind or have vision impairments, which is simply excellent news.
Writing on their Facebook page, SGLMG explained:
“For the first time, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will provide people with sight loss the opportunity to experience this iconic event through professional audio description. Guide Dogs will make the Mardi Gras accessible and inclusive for its clients with vision impairment – who will have the parade and surroundings described to them via headsets at the event’s nominated accessibility viewing areas.”
They added that mobility specialists will be on hand to “offer assistance to clients, including getting to and from the nominated accessibility viewing areas ?”.
This is welcome news, especially considering how audio descriptions aren’t normalised the way captioning is (and while captioning isn’t universal, it is available on all free-to-air channels in Australia).
Discussing audio descriptions on TV, Chris Edwards, the manager of Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives at Vision Australia, said, “It comes down to a basic right – I should be able to, as a blind person, have the same access to television as the rest of my family.”
And the same goes for Mardi Gras. A parade that’s all about including those who have traditionally been ignored by society should be accessible to as many people as possible.
For this year’s parade, all of the accessible viewing locations have been consolidated into one ‘premium location’ in between Linden and Patterson Lanes. This area is flat and accessible, has accessible amenities, and has volunteers available to assist patrons throughout the evening.
So whether you’re participating in the parade, watching from the sidelines, partying elsewhere, or staying home, I hope you have an unforgettable Mardi Gras weekend!