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Stevie Wonder’s Glastonbury access plea

Stevie Wonder’s Glastonbury access plea
1st July 2010 developer

Soul legend Stevie Wonder has delivered a plea to “make the world more accessible”, at the end of his headlining appearance at the Glastonbury music festival.

The singer-songwriter, who is blind, had performed some of his classic hits, including Higher Ground, Superstition and Happy Birthday, in front of an estimated crowd of 100,000 people on the final day of the festival.

But as he finished his set, he appealed to the crowd to “encourage the world to make the world more accessible for those who are physically challenged”.

To a roar of approval from the crowd, he added: “Make it more accessible. Let there be nowhere that I cannot go being blind, or one cannot go being deaf, or someone cannot go being paraplegic or quadriplegic.

“Make it accessible so that we can celebrate the world as well as you can.”

The musician has a long track record of campaigning on civil and human rights issues, and raising funds for disability and other causes.

Elsewhere at the festival, Attitude is Everything (AIE), which campaigns for better access to live music for disabled people, showcased several Deaf and disabled musicians and DJs on one of the open air stages.

Performers included Bug Prentice and La Rebla Fam, both of which have disabled band members, and Deaf Rave DJs MC Geezer, DJ Inigo and DJ Ceri.

Other disabled musicians who appeared at the festival included the Congolese band Staff Benda Bilili and Mystery Jets, whose frontman Blaine Harrison is disabled.

AIE also provided 10 Deaf and disabled stewards to assist disabled festival-goers on the accessible campsite and on the viewing platforms.

Suzanne Bull, chief executive of AIE, said it was too early to evaluate access at this year’s festival, but she added: “Glastonbury work very hard to do the best that they can. They are open to the suggestions and feedback and evaluation that we give them.”

She pointed to notices written by festival founder Michael Eavis on the doors of the accessible toilets, asking non-disabled people not to use them.

She said: “What is changing is that they are asking the question now instead of us bringing it up.”

She added: “They are not just talking about [disabled] audiences anymore, they are talking about artists, too.”