Accommodations – They Make All The Difference

Photograph of Headstones' concert Text reads "Accommodations allowed me to share an incredible show with everyone else. Disabled and proud. Disabled and fully participating. Amy Sequenzia on Ollibean"Accommodations are important and they work.

I should not be making a big deal about it. The ADA is 25 years old. Sadly, getting the accommodations we, disable people need, is often the opposite of simple.

 

If you have been reading my posts, you know that I am very visibly disabled.

I am also proud, and I don’t try to be someone other than myself.

I do require a lot of supports, and once I have them, I can do anything I set up as goals.

I have goals, or simply things I want to do, that most people would consider absurd. This is because they try to define what I am supposed to like and wish based on how I look, or how I move. Based on biased assumptions.

 

I defy that idea and I have a story for you. Again, it should not be a big deal, but since it still is, I will celebrate.

 

Recently, I discover some pretty awesome music and for many reasons, the band – Headstones – became my favorite. I love their music and the colors I see when listening to it.

 

The band announced three shows and I decided that I was going to one. This would be a new experience: listening to great live rock n roll. The thing is, the band plays loud music, there is a lot of light/blinking light, the fans are many, some pretty rowdy, and never quiet – and if you are there, and movement is not an issue, you cannot stay quiet. Blame it on the showmanship of the vocalist. It is contagious.

 

All this would not be a problem but:

 

Loud music plus all the lights can be a sensory nightmare, and there is always the risk of seizures, even if lights usually don’t trigger mine.

Too many people standing, yelling and jumping, all very close to one another makes me shiver with anxiety.

Usually there is no place to sit.

 

This was going to be my first rock concert and I would need my wheelchair and a safe area, away from the loud, possibly rowdy crowd.

I didn’t know what to expect as far as lights and loudness go, so I was a little concerned.

 

I needed accommodations.

I wanted the same experience the majority of fans have in shows and I needed to make sure I was going to be able to have that experience as a disabled person.

 

This is what happened next:

I got the most amazing, awesome, fantastic, fabulous experience.

Because:

I got accommodations.

Photograph of Amy Sequenzia and Hugh Dillon. Woman with black hair and white skin wearing green t-shirt that reads: "My other disability is a bad attitude" is sitting in wheelchair next to a man with white skin and shaved head wearing a blue jacket who is standing.

Photograph of Amy Sequenzia and Headstones’ Hugh Dillon.

 

The theatre – Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls – had all set up for me and for others who also needed similar accommodations: ramp, chairs, safe area with security.

Plus, I could arrive just before the Rock Stars – and that’s what they are, in so many ways – came out to amaze us. I skipped the band that was opening to make sure I had all my spoons for my favorite band.

I had headphones and glasses that helped with sensory overload.

I did not have seizures – YAY!

 

Accommodations allowed me to share an incredible show with everyone else.

Disabled and proud. Disabled and fully participating.

 

But there is more, and it gets better:

 

I still wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to really enjoy the music I love and have my awesome synesthetic experience.

 

So I contacted the band management team before making plans.

I explained everything and did not have to wait until the offer came: I could go to soundcheck. Then, if anything happened and I had to leave the show, at least I would have listened to some music, played live.

 

The Headstones, being so awesome, went even further with the accommodations that would make my day. I thought I was going to walk in, listen to a few tunes, and walk out.

 

I was wrong. They played 5 or 6 songs, they tested/played the instruments, I met the band members and they could not have been nicer. They also went out of their way to make sure the theatre staff knew about all that I needed (they did).

 

I am very awkward when meeting new people and typing is hard. I feel overwhelmed with the new and with expectations. I was able to type a few words, but there wasn’t enough time for my brain to process everything that was happening, and for me to relax, enough to be able to have a conversation.

 

They got that, no explanations needed.

They spent some time around me, just chatting.

I have things in common with Hugh, as he observed.

We took pictures and Tim was aware of the dangers of flash photography for epileptic people.

Photograph of Amy Sequenzia and Tim White . Woman with black hair and white skin wearing green t-shirt that reads: "My other disability is a bad attitude" is sitting in wheelchair next to a man with white skin and brown hair wearing a white tshirt .

Photograph of Amy Sequenzia and Headstones’ bassist, Tim White

 
They – maybe instinctively – knew that I am not a hugger.

 

Accommodations. Because they understood, my anxiety did not escalate.

 

I had the best time, my first rock concert, everything was perfect.

I did not miss anything. I actually left with a gift, handed to me during the show – a harmonica.
Photograph of a harmonica. MARINE BAND (with "D" sticker covering N and D ). Below this "M. Kohner" in Script . The numbers 1-10 are etched across the bottom of the harmonica.

I shared an amazing show with lots of people who were not visibly disabled, with people who didn’t need all the accommodations I did.

 

Best of all, like a butterfly effect of willingness to allow full participation, I met incredibly kind and sweet people.

That, to me, was the best part.

I unexpectedly met authentic, good, kind, funny, sweet, warm people.

As I said, Rock Stars in many different ways.

 

Thank you Rapids Theatre Niagara Falls

Thank you Courtney and Steve

Thank you Hugh, Tim, Dale and Trent

 

You all made my day.

 
Photograph of Headstones' concert Text reads " like a butterfly effect of willingness to allow full participation, I met incredibly kind and sweet people. Amy Sequenzia on Ollibean"

Image description black and white photograph of woman with short dark brown hair. She is smiling. Dark grey text reads:Amy Sequenzia Passionate Autistic activist, writer, and poet . Read more from Amy on Ollibean and visit nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com .

About the Author:

Amy Sequenzia is a non-speaking Autistic, multiply disabled activist and writer. Amy writes about disability rights, civil rights and human rights. She also writes poetry. Amy has presented in several conferences in the US and abroad, and her work is featured in books about being Autistic and Disabled. Amy is deeply involved with the Neurodiversity Movement and has been outspoken about the rights and worthy of disabled people. Amy serves on the Board of Directors of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST). http://nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com and Autism Women’s Network. You can also follow Amy on Twitter at @AmySequenzia.

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