I am curious as to the range and scope of disabled crafters out there, particularly those that sell at craft fairs. I regularly speak to a lady in a wheelchair crafter, who makes jewellery and shares a stall with someone else, but unless her friend can make it, she cannot transport and erect all the bits herself due to her limited mobility. I doubt if the organiser has had any disability-needs training. I used to be an accessibility consultant, since retired, and know that access and inclusion covers everyone, from vision-impaired, to hearing impaired, mobility-impaired, learning-disability, etc. Your thoughts and experiences would be useful.
I’d love to do craft fairs, but have IBS and an overactive bladder, so unless I know there are good toilet facilities where I won’t have to queue I can’t go to any fairs to sell. I’ve never yet visited a fair where I could envisage being able to spend the day, so have to miss out on that market. Thank goodness for on-line selling!
I’ve come across a few disabled sellers at craft fairs, usually with helpers that come with them, but it’s rare to find any that sell on their own. I also know a lot of non-disabled sellers who have certain health/mobility issues that would exclude them from selling at fairs without help, and many more reasonably healthy ones who still find it too physically demanding to set up and take down on their own, so need to enlist the help of friends or partners.
Some of the larger fairs have ‘helpers’ who will give a hand with heavy items and unloading/loading cars, but usually it’s down to the sellers to organise their own help. Organisers will usually try to make life easier by allocating accessible spaces to those with problems, and it’s always worth asking in advance whether help would be available on the day.
I once refused to enrol at a new craft fair venue which was in a pub car park but the landlord of the pub refused crafters access to the toilets. The organiser said we would have to use Starbucks down the road, which was impractical.
It is also physically very demanding loading a car, unloading, setting up the gazebo, etc, and we are exhausted at the end of the day. Where we can, we look to assist other crafters setting up even for a few minutes. I am much more aware that without help and assistance, many disabled people are effectively excluded from craft fairs. Perhaps there needs to be a contact person to coordinate help, ideally the craft fair organiser, after all they may have legal obligations under the Equality Act if they are providing “Services, or public functions”, which they usually are.
Also from the disabled customer angle I’ve often found there are some craft venues that not accessible.
I often taken ‘adopted daughter’’ to craft fairs and she’s in a wheelchair which will often exclude her from outside events as she nor I can stop her wheelchair from getting stuck in grass especially if it’s rained the night before.
I don’t really have any knowledge or experience re: disabled crafters and fairs but I would imagine that there are a significant number of disabled crafters out there. I often hear of crafters who have taken up their particular craft due to their disability preventing them from being able to join the mass job market. It is unfortunate in this day and age of supposed disability awareness that many are still excluded from events as both visitors and exhibitors.
Great thread Ronald!
I am not disabled but my eldest daughter is, and she has in the past had to accompany me when I have done various shows, as I am her carer. Believe me when I say it has been bloomin’ hard work at some venues :0( . I haven’t done many shows recently for that reason. Wheelchair acess, a proper wheelchair accessible loo and space to move around… Parking too - all problems I have come across.
I totally agree Ronald disability-needs considerations are rarely really taken into account, if at all, rather annoyingly.
I work for a charity that enable those with health limitations to set up in self employment, very often crafter and artist, as an organisation we are an organisation that is run by disabled people for disabled people. The local area is trying very hard to be inclusive including hiring trampers to those stall holders whose chairs might otherwise be stuck and having staff on hand to support all people setting up. They are funded through the “love your market” programme for one. Rachel
That’s useful information. I belong to the Access Association, London branch, and can give feedback to them , but ideally ought to be a wider cross-section of customers and disabled crafters if possible. Grass is very common at many craft venues but there should be some accessible pathways for prams, buggies, wheelchairs, etc. Most Organisers have never heard of The Equality Act, I suspect. There are also temporary rolls of hard pathways over part of the grass that can be used, cost permitting.
Thanks for this. As stated in another reply I can give some feedback to the London Branch of the Access Association, as I am a member . If they think relevant, they can dissipate that info to the other branch members nationally. Could even write an article for the Access Journal, -( I have written one recently on the impact of DAB radio on older and disabled people. ) Parking is an issue. Accessible parking bays may be limited in number and not always well-positioned, or inconsiderate drivers park too close.
You seem to be doing great work there, Rachel. I am all for making the markets and fairs more inclusive. But we need to keep the pressure up and make a fuss to be heard !
Would love to establish how many crafters out there have a disability, and how many attend craft fairs and who does online only. But often such statistics are very difficult to find. If anyone is aware of the ‘exclusion’ of disabled people at events due to poor organisation of fairs or events, then please do send an email to organiser, or speak to them and make it plain that the situation needs review. The way the law is written, it is mainly disabled people and some carers who can take action, apart from the CEHR (Commission for Equality and Human Rights), but that should be a last resort.
Another problem with some can be narrow lanes between stalls especially at smaller indoor events. So those with mobility issuse’s can’t get down the aisles so easily.
Also for the disabled crafter lack of space behind a table/stall can be a real issues.
I agree with that Eileen, its not just the disabled either but mums and dads with pushchairs and buggys. Too many organisers try to cram too many stalls into a small space (more table fees for them) and it can make it near on impossible for people to pass by each other or stop to browse even when able bodied and walking let alone anyone with a pushchair, wheelchair, walker or shopping trolley. I am certain I have lost sales by people being jostled past my stall when something had caught their eye. If an event is very crowded I tend to avoid it in future.
You could get the number of disabled crafters from those that are claiming benefits such as permitted work or the NEA, there are statistics for this but the crafters and artists would be a sub category?
Good point on limited width and space in front of the stalls, as well as sometimes limited behind the tables. There are clear guidelines in technical standards for access in corridors, rooms, doorways, and the standards also cover pathways , access routes. A vision-impaired person should be allowed 1200mm, about four feet width, to be able to use their canes. I also get annoyed when people stop to talk directly outside my stall with their friends, with baby buggies or cycles, and that impedes people who want to look at my stall. My wife says it would be rude to ask them to move !
Just for the record, a design dimension in planning for turning circle for most, but not all wheelchairs is 1500mm, or about five feet. You would be lucky to have that behind your tables on a stall. Most get by in multiple turning manouvering. But if you have crates of goods and boxes nearby that makes it even more difficult.