‘No compassion’ in accessibility policies at AtlanticFest, says Bishop’s Falls family – Newfoundland & Labrador

A 27-year-old man living with muscular dystrophy is calling for a major music promoter to change his policies on accessibility.

Bishop’s Falls native Michael Roberts says it’s unfair that the upcoming AtlanticFest concert in Grand Falls-Windsor would not agree to provide free access to a caregiver to attend the concert with him and his mother.

“It wasn’t right, disabled people should have the same rights as normal people do,” Michael Roberts told CBC News with the help of his mother, who was reading his lips.

‘It wasn’t right.’
– Michael Roberts

Roberts — a big country music fan — has been diagnosed with Duchene muscular dystrophy. The disease means he is confined to a wheelchair and needs full-time care, and assistance for most daily tasks.

Roberts and his mother Mary bought tickets to see Blake Shelton perform at the AtlanticFest concert in August. They were surprised to learn, after contacting the event organizers, that AtlanticFest would not give free admission for a personal care worker alongside Michael and his mom.

Dave Roberts said he had a disagreeable conversation with David Carver, the promoter of AtlanticFest, about attendant passes. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

‘No compassion’

“The reason why [they] told us that it was not is what got to us,” said Dave Roberts, Michael’s father, who spoke to AtlanticFest promoter David Carver. “It seems like he has no compassion for the disabled.” 

‘I feel it is disrespectful to those who cannot afford to attend… to give away tickets to other people’
– David Carver

Carver told CBC News that he was not interested in an interview, but wrote in a statement that his rule at all of his concerts is that everyone has to pay to enter, including attendants.

“There are people that are unable to afford tickets to concerts. There are people who cannot afford tickets to concerts, but manage to find a way to raise the money and attend. I feel it is disrespectful to those who cannot afford to attend, and to those who struggle to find the means to attend, to give away tickets to other people,” Carver wrote.

While people who need caregivers are usually allotted one space reserved space, Carver said he arranged for the Roberts family to have two spaces alongside Michael for ticket holders.

Following the conversation between Carver and Roberts, Carver also offered a free third ticket for the Roberts family, paid out-of-pocket. Roberts declined.

Attendant passes not legislated yet

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