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30 Apr 2013

Accessible to All: Goldenvoice Works to Make Coachella, Stagecoach Fun for Those With Disabilities

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The folks who put on Stagecoach and Coachella each year have made it a priority to make the festivals accessible and enjoyable for people who have a disability. The folks who put on Stagecoach and Coachella each year have made it a priority to make the festivals accessible and enjoyable for people who have a disability. Erik Goodman

When I decided to attend Coachella and Stagecoach on behalf of the Coachella Valley Independent, editor Jimmy Boegle and I had some concerns about my physical limitations. A back injury that I suffered in 2011 has left me with problems with standing and sitting for long periods of time.

While I was indeed concerned, I was confident that I was up to the task. However, by the third day of Coachella's second weekend, I was starting to really feel my physical limitations.

I decided to visit promoter Goldenvoice’s ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Access Center, located in the lobby area of both Coachella and Stagecoach. I was given an ADA wristband, which allowed me access to the handicapped areas, where I could sit and watch each band from a comfortable distance.

One of the things I’ve always loved to do is attend concerts. It’s an amazing experience to be able to experience live performances by bands and performers you’ve enjoyed for years, and to experience new artists you aren’t familiar with. However, I’ve been nervous and hesitant to do since 2011, given the issues I have with both sitting and standing.

Government statistics say that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability—so how do you accommodate those who have a disability at a music festival?

Goldenvoice employees have been trying to answer that very question since they created the ADA department, and have been making improvements every year—from how they design the layout of the grounds, to how the staging areas are set up.

“It’s a never ending commitment,” said J.B., an employee of Goldenvoice who is affiliated with the ADA Access Center (and who declined to give his last name). “We are constantly refining everything in every aspect of the festivals. We’re working hand in hand with every department.”

The department has a broad range of services available for handicapped patrons.

“We cover everything from the parking lot and designated wheelchair and companion areas to sign-language interpreters on the stages,” he said.

While the ADA Access Center does try to accommodate each case on a per-need basis, they have no control over some parking-lot access issues, he said; that is handled according to the DMV and law enforcement rules, meaning placards or license plates are required for handicapped-access parking.

For those who have a disability and have been hesitant to attend Coachella or Stagecoach, I can say that Goldenvoice has you covered.

“Ultimately, I would say the numbers (of disabled attendees) grow every year,” he said.

He also offered an inspiring thought after providing access to disabled patrons over the years.

“(By) providing ADA services here at the festivals, we are opening up to a broader audience that perhaps never thought, ‘Hey, I could go to a music festival,’ and now they’re seeing they can go in their wheelchair and enjoy it as much as any other able-bodied person.”

As someone who sought services from this department over two weekends, I can say that the ADA Access Center does a good job. As I was leaving the Access Center at Stagecoach to go catch John C. Reilly and Friends, J.B. told me something that almost made me choke up: The department has provided services to terminally ill patrons who have told them that it might be their last Coachella or Stagecoach.

I’d personally like to thank Goldenvoice for providing me with ADA access; without it, I don’t know how well I would have been able to hold up and cover the festival as I did.

4 comments

  • Comment Link KITTY Sunday, 19 April 2015 03:01 posted by KITTY

    I USE LARGE TYPE SINCE MY EYESIGHT NOT GOOD - NEVER YELLING UNLESS !! USED LOL

    PLEASE IF ANYONE IN A POWER WHEELCHAIR WITH OXYGEN ATTENDED IN EITHER 2013 -2015 PLEASE SHARE HOW THINGS WENT FOR U? ALSO I CAN'T LAY IN A TENT & NEED BATHROOMS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE PUT 1 THAT WILL ACCOMMODATE A WHEELCHAIR.
    I'VE BEEN STUCK IN A RESTROOM FOR 20 MINUTES BECAUSE THE DOOR REQUIRED PULLING TOWARDS ME TO GET OUT.
    I MAYBE INEED HELP TO LIVE BUT LIKE SO MANY OTHERS I WANT TO ENJOY SOME OF WHAT I USE TO DO.
    RESPECT

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  • Comment Link Lee Roy Brown Friday, 03 April 2015 04:16 posted by Lee Roy Brown

    I've just had surgery and I'm going to be using the ADA services. This will no doubt bring tears of happiness to my eyes at some point while enjoying what I otherwise wouldn't be able to with out Goldenvoice....and more importantly, my friends. Thank you Goldenvoice! I will be sure to send the proper thanks along with my utmost gratitude. COACHELLA!

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  • Comment Link Brian Blueskye Monday, 06 May 2013 18:59 posted by Brian Blueskye

    Natsuko,

    I'm very sorry to hear about your condition. i'd like to address some things with you regarding their ADA access.

    First, they didn't grant me access simply because of my press credentials. They did so based on my physical condition.

    Second, the ADA department can't accommodate every request, but they do the best they can to accommodate disabled patrons. Plus as they told me, they are currently looking to expand services and are trying to improve the amount of access they can provide. One problem I could see is that the bathrooms are limited, for everyone.

    Third, I wouldn't say they discriminate, but they really do go above and beyond to accommodate people the best they can with what they have.

    I hope you'll be able to attend Coachella or Stagecoach in the future. Thank you very much for your input.

    -Brian Blueskye

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  • Comment Link Natsuko Sunday, 05 May 2013 19:21 posted by Natsuko

    It's nice that they were able to accommodate you, but as a matter of fact, the Stagecoach ADA does an irresponsibly poor job of providing for the disabled, especially when they don't have press credentials. Many of us weren't able to attend the festival this year because of ADA negligence, especially when our disabilities are not as easily attended to as basic mobility or hearing issues. For example, I have a chronic, inflammatory gastric disease and can't go places where urgent bathroom access isn't guaranteed. I tried several times to get in touch with the stagecoach ADA, and they hung up on my phone calls, and in response to emails I was told repeatedly to check with staff members on-site. Which is just absurd - this was a question I needed answered ahead of time, or else I couldn't go - and the idea that they'd dismiss legitimate disabilities inquiries that way is unconscionable. I wasn't able to attend the event for that reason. And this is only one example - there are many others out there like me, several of whom I've spoken with personally. This behavior is openly discriminatory, and doesn't speak to the basic tenets of the ADA - it's really not okay.

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