The Half Access mission is to make live music more accessible, and in most of our recent work we’ve focused on the experience of disabled fans attending shows. There’s another huge part of venue accessibility, which is making sure that disabled musicians can access venues. But, before playing shows comes learning an instrument, which can often look different for disabled musicians. I got the chance to interview a few disabled musicians to share their experiences with adapting how they learn and play their instruments in a way that works with their disabilities.
On July 14, 2019 Half Access is hosting its first-ever online fundraiser and awareness event starting at 9:00 a.m. PT (or noon ET). There will be artists going live on Facebook and Instagram all throughout the day to play songs, talk about accessibility, and encourage listeners to donate to Half Access and check out the site’s database of venue accessibility information.
Amber Nicole Wolfe, 20, has been regularly going to shows and getting involved in her local scene in Omaha, NE since 2016, and takes an occasional hour-long trip to Lincoln for shows as well. She’s autistic, and in our interview below, she explains her sensory sensitivity at shows, and shares experiences of both accessibility and inaccessibility at concerts.
Before I even knew how to advocate for myself through Half Access, back in 2014, at the now-extinct Alhambra in Portland, I was attending a Real Friends show in the front row and the band worked with security to make sure I was placed side-stage—safe from the crowd and with a good view of the show before their set began. Fast forward a couple of years and they did it again at the Wonder Ballroom—one of the venues that was a catalyst for me to start Half Access. Just recently, I caught them on their headlining tour in support of their new record, Composure, and was able to chat with bassist and tour manager, Kyle Fasel about their willingness to help their disabled fans.
23-year-old Ellie Hart works at The Wellmont Theater, runs MELTT (Music Ellie Listened To Today) which is an online magazine that releases regular playlists, and she is a contributor to The Alternative. In 2017, she graduated from Belmont University in Nashville. Now, Hart – who has Epilepsy – is on a mission to make shows safer through her new project, LEAD DIY (Lighting and Epilepsy Awareness Development in DIY).