Blind & Seeing Buddy System – BSBS (working title)
Visually impaired folks enjoy music and other festivals just as much as anybody else.
However, going to some of these festivals might feel unsafe as it is unknown territory, the loud music or crowd noise might be challenging to assess one’s surrounding, inebriated people may not be aware of those who need clear walking paths or undisturbed standing spots, and the ground may be uneven with technical equipment or due to natural outdoor conditions.
What if every blind person who wants to attend a festival could buy their ticket like everybody else and be paired with a seeing buddy for the duration of the festival?
This seeing buddy would join the festival free of charge and be a guide, making sure uneven grounds or drunk people pose no threat to the physical integrity of their blind buddy, accompanying them throughout the different locations of the festival that might be difficult to find without seeing, possibly describing some of the visual elements, and hopefully, the two buddies, maybe joined by other friends attending the festival, get to know each other and exchange their experience of festival-going, live music, or other spectacles; new friendships can be born between people who may have never met otherwise.
As an event organiser, why should I provide free tickets?
– Because the blind buddy would probably not have bought a ticket without this system, so you gift one ticket but sold an extra one, no income is lost, plus the free ticket person will still purchase F&B and merch onsite.
– Also because access matters, your event will be a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion / DEI ally (good karma for you), which in turn will attract good PR and more visitors (business bonus points to you). Your staff and collaborators may feel inspired to implement more of these grassroots schemes and improve your event accessibility even more!
– NB: for public events, free accompanying guides are already included in many countries and there are lots of initiatives and resources available featuring buddy systems or guide protocols to get inspiration from.
As a seeing buddy, what are my responsibilities?
– First and foremost, please only apply to the scheme if you truly care about making new friends and assisting a visually-impaired person. And take into account that you need to remain mostly sober while accompanying your blind buddy.
– You will receive a few short tips on what your blind buddy might need from you and will be introduced to your blind buddy in advance to make sure you both agree to this match-making.
– There are no legal or insurance requirements to participate in this scheme. Regular liability laws apply, just as if you were attending an event with any friend or colleague – TBC according to different countries.
As a blind buddy, how do I apply?
– Your chosen event participating to the scheme will inform guests on how to apply. If you only mean to attend the event with a seeing buddy, make sure a match will be available for you before buying your ticket as a seeing buddy cannot be guaranteed.
– When introduced to your potential seeing buddy, make sure you clearly state your needs and that both parties agree to each other’s basic conditions to attend the event together. Also provide your seeing buddy with emergency contacts just in case.
What is different between this system and the usual guide and buddy systems?
– This system is open-source and decentralised: it means every promoter/event/venue can adapt it to their specificities, and that the concept is free to use without any central power. And this concept is based on the Buddy System, a simple pairing protocol with a myriad of variations used since the 1960s in education, at work, and in institutions to support inclusion and training with great success.
– Our concept does not rely on charity or any (cash) donation as we feel charity is antinomic to inclusion.
– The matching relies on the two buddies having similar music or event tastes, their match aims at having a good time together while also making some logistics easier for the visually-impaired person of the pair. This system is not meant to replace professional guides when and where needed.
– Current feedback HERE, BSBS implementation possibilities HERE.
GOAL 1: making cultural events accessible to a bigger number of people. Making this access as safe and pleasant as possible.
GOAL 2: de-stigmatising visual impairment to a wider – possibly younger – crowd. Taking down barriers between blind and seeing people.
GOAL 3: raising awareness on the theme of cultural accessibility for all and encouraging more grassroots initiatives towards general access for people with different abilities and to nurture diverse interaction. This concept is meant to supplement other accessibility initiatives, not replace them.
• GOAL 4: encouraging more inclusion ideas to be developed by promoters/technicians/artists as they feel inspired. As an example some bands organise a stage tour for visually-impaired guests to touch some of the backline to match with the sounds they would hear once the show started.