Student joins forces with Cheltenham Jazz Festival to make live events accessible

Sam smiling at Cheltenham Jazz Festival next to blue badges

One of the UK’s most prominent jazz festivals has joined forces with a National Star student to make big strikes in accessibility for live events.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival has worked with Sam Vestey, who attends National Star College in Cheltenham, to rethink how disabled access signage looks on its open-air site in the centre of the Cotswolds town.

Sam’s blue badge campaign

Sam is campaigning to make the familiar disabled sign more inclusive for people with non-visible disabilities. The 20-year-old believes the wheelchair icon featured on blue badges and disabled parking bays is outdated.

His campaign is being supported by National Star, a specialist college for young people with disabilities, and other students from specialist colleges around the country.

Choosing from submissions to a competition run by Natspec, the membership organisation for specialist colleges, Sam has selected a new, more inclusive logo.

The logo was designed by a student at St. John’s College in Brighton. It shows two able bodied people with a third person in a wheelchair and the wording, ‘Some disabilities are visible. Some are not. Take care of each other’.

‘Only 7% of disabled people use a wheelchair. That means this logo isn’t really relevant for the other 83% of people with disabilities. Surely, it’s time for a change,’ says Sam who has a chromosomal condition called DiGeorge Syndrome and survived a pineoblastoma brain tumour as a child.

Sam says he and his family have often been challenged when using disabled parking spaces and he doesn’t want others to have to go through similar experiences.

‘Just because people can’t see my disability, they don’t understand how much pain I am in and how fatigued I get. That’s why I have a disabled badge.’

Working with Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Sam is delighted that the new logo will get its debut at Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

Andrew Lansley, Innovation Manager at Cheltenham Festivals, the arts charity that hosts Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and three other international festivals, every year, said: ‘Enhancing accessibility is a strategic priority for us, and we’re dedicated to finding and sharing good practice everywhere in the live events sector.

‘We’re so proud to be partnering with a local like Sam to find better ways to open up our Festivals to everyone. Our goal as an organisation is to ensure that everyone can explore and create culture. This is one way we can help achieve that.’

Sam is hoping other organisations will support his campaign and start using the alternative logo.

‘I am thrilled that the new logo is being trialed at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The more people who use it, the more we can put pressure on the government to make the universal logo more reflective of those it is there to support.’

The signage will be in place on Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s site in the centre of the spa town for the length of the Festival. Cheltenham Jazz Festival takes place 26 April – 1 May 2023.

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