Photo of a concert. Large crowd of people. There is a stage with red lights and huge screens. Ed Sheeran is visible in the huge screens singing.

Holly’s guide to gigs & concerts

My name is Holly, I’m 22 years old and I’m the author of the blog Life of a Blind Girl.

Aside from blogging and working, I love reading a good book, seeing my friends and family, watching a bit of tv/YouTube and love going to concerts. As you can tell from the title of my blog…I’m blind. You may be wondering ‘how can you go to concerts if you’re blind?’ Well let me tell you.

Like I said, I love going to concerts, to be completely honest, I’m a bit of a fangirl, I especially like pop music.

A ticket stup for a Shawn Mendes gig at the Manchester arena, Friday 28 April 2017.
Holly gets all the hottest tickets

Like with everything, going to concerts when you have a disability, in my case a visual impairment, can be both amazing and sometimes quite challenging. There’s no other feeling like being at a concert seeing your favourite band or artist live and in that moment, nothing else matters.

Some people may be thinking ‘but concerts are quite visual’, well even if you have a visual impairment and can’t see what’s going on then you can still fully enjoy a concert just like everyone else. Being at a concert is all about the atmosphere, the music, dancing and singing along (as loud as you can), and just generally enjoying yourself, you don’t need sight to do any of that. Personally I find concerts to be very inclusive and accessible, everyone is there for the same reason as you and that’s what makes them so special, everyone is there to support the band or artist and enjoy themselves.

One of the things that I love the most about going to concerts is that you get to hear songs live that you would usually just listen to in your bedroom, in the car or wherever, they sound so much more amazing live. It’s also very special when you get to hear the songs that mean the most to you life as well, it’s truly an incredible moment.

There’s also no moment like singing the songs back to an artist and hearing the whole arena sing along, for me, moments like that make a concert..

Oh and the atmosphere, I can’t even put into words how incredible it is!

Selfie. Smiling man, Aston, on the left, in a hoodie. Aston is facing forwards and smiling. Holly is a brunette and wearing glasses. She has a big happy grin on her face!
Holly and Aston Merrygold! #FanGirl

When it comes to buying concert tickets, many venues offer a free carer scheme where you can purchase one standard ticket and get a free carer/personal assistant/companion ticket. For me, this is invaluable as concert Venues are unfamiliar places for me, so therefore I need someone to sighted guide me and it’s more fun to go with a friend or family member anyway. Some venues do offer assistance and I have done this with a fellow visually impaired friend, it worked well and I wrote all about my experience in a blog post which you can check out.

Venues also have other accessibility arrangements such as specific seating/standing area for disabled people, a viewing platform, disabled toilets and disabled parking spaces, but this all depends on the venue and the facilities available so it’s always best to check beforehand.

However, although having these provisions is great, they are not perfect and disabled people continue to face many challenges when accessing live music.

It can often be hard for us to purchase disabled access tickets as the information is regularly not on the website and there may not be a specific contact, therefore, disabled people miss out on the chance to get disabled access tickets.

One of the other challenges that we sometimes face is the lack of disabled access seating or viewing provision, the seating is not often at a convenient place for disabled people to access and viewing areas/viewing platforms can sometimes be at an awkward place, often at the back of the room, not giving disabled people an equal opportunity. If you have a visual impairment but have some useful vision, this can often be quite frustrating as you don’t have a clear view of the stage.

Accessing VIP packages as a disabled fan can also be extremely difficult, I’ve faced two experiences of this over the last year, one resulted in me missing out on the chance of a lifetime to meet my idol.

However, I don’t let these few negative experiences stop me from attending concerts even though I am blind, the positive experiences most certainly outweigh the negative ones.

Although I am blind and have no useful vision, going to concerts is something that I enjoy and I don’t let my disability stop me from doing that, I don’t let it stop me from doing anything that I love.

I think that’s so important, a disabled person is so much more than their disability, their disability is just one part of them.

There is a common misconception that blind people are not independent, can’t do every day activities like everyone else or just live a normal, fulfilling and enjoyable life, and let me tell you, this is not true at all! I live a pretty normal life and so do so many other blind and visually impaired people, a lot of that is down to my Mum and Dad because they have never treated me any different to anyone else and they have not wrapped me up in ‘cotton wool’ so to speak. I am extremely lucky in the fact that I have amazing friends and family that support me in everything that I do, they look beyond my disability and treat me like they would any sighted person. I do all the usual stuff that an average girl in her 20’s does, being blind makes me no different.

If you take anything from this post, I want you to know that a person’s disability does not hold them back and does not stop them living the life they want to live. We can still enjoy ourselves and do fun things despite our disability.

Check out Holly’s brilliant blog and follow all her adventures here https://lifeofablindgirl.com/

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