Well I just got some feedback from a few friends who went to the Symphony in the Flint Hills concert in Kansas. It was held last weekend and from what I hear the weather was great.
The whole premise behind this event was to stage classical music against the backdrop of the Kansas Flint Hills. The organizers wanted to make the event as accessible as possible, but they had some tough challenges. First off, people were suppose to park in the parking lot and either walk or take one of the vintage wagons out to the concert site, which was about a mile away. They wanted to give folks the feeling that they were really out in nature, not just next door to a parking lot. Of course, vintage wagons aren?t very wheelchair-accessible. So as an alternative they had lift-equipped buses with tie downs.
One of my friends, Terry, had a bit of an issue with the tie-downs. Basically the person who was securing his wheelchair was unfamiliar with the tie-downs and it took a while. Terry being the ?rough and tumble type of guy? insisted he did not need them anyway. But the driver said he did. OK, so you see where this is leading.
Terry?s point is that none of the able-bodied passengers on the bus had to be belted in, so why did he? And why shouldn?t the bus driver listen to him? So he was a little miffed about that and said that the drivers should be trained better. I told him that he was being secured, not for his own safety, but for the safety of others on the bus. And most likely it was also a condition of the insurance carrier. He still thought he should have the choice.
Still I think Terry?s biggest beef was that the driver would not listen to him; which is a complaint I hear all to often. Too many times people try and assist you, yet will not listen to your specific instructions on how to lift you or what part of your wheelchair not to touch. People just like to have a little input (or at least appear to have some input) into a situation that directly effects them. Nobody likes to be ignored.
On the brighter side of things, after Terry got to the venue he had a great time. There was accessible seating up front and he just rolled out of his wheelchair and found a space on the grass and enjoyed his picnic lunch and vino (from a plastic container as no glass containers were allowed).
All in all it sounds like a great event. I?m glad the organizers worked to make it accessible, because I know several people who would have missed out otherwise.