The Irn Bru Carnival has been accused of having a discriminatory policy towards people with disabilities. This accusation came towards the end of the festival, which took place in the SECC in Glasgow from 21 December to 14 January.
The Carnival’s policy initially said that proof of receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was not enough to get the special Ride Access Pass. In addition, the proof of the disability, such as a letter from a GP, was to be reviewed by the Carnival’s staff, who were not medically trained.
However, after this rule had been contested by a parent, naming the demand for “excessive” personal data as well as the potential inability of the staff to review the proof, the policy has been changed by the Irn Bru Carnival organisers.
The original policy, outlined in the FAQs on the Festival’s website, offered the possibility of a Ride Access Pass, intended for people who may become “agitated or distressed” while queuing for an extended period of time, or people who have difficulties with “everyday social interaction." The policy stated that the Pass would only be issued by the staff against a “documentary proof," however, it also detailed that “Disability Living Allowance letters are not sufficient as they do not state the nature of the disability." The section continued with specifying that the Carnival staff are not medically trained professionals and thus are not able to decide whether the individual is eligible for the Ride Access Pass, unless the disability is clearly stated in the proof documentation.
This issue has been raised with QD Events, the organisers of the festival, by a parent who noticed the policy. She contacted QD Events, stating that precisely because the Carnival’s staff are not medically trained, they are not able to competently evaluate the information in the medical documentation or determine what level of needs the person has. She also claimed that the personal data requirement was excessive and broke equalities legislation.
QD Events manager responded to the issue raised, saying that the policy will be reviewed. The policy has subsequently been changed, and for the remainder of the Carnival, the website stated: “Anyone with a disability badge or proof of disability living allowance (given accessibility of rides, ride access pass cannot accommodate wheelchair users)” was eligible for the Ride Access Pass.
Irn Bru Carnival spokesperson commented: “Our Ride Access Pass is designed to ensure that everyone can enjoy all our attractions regardless of any conditions that could make queuing difficult or distressing. We are always grateful for comments from our customers and have reviewed and updated our FAQs. We will continue to review the matter to ensure that we provide as much clarity as possible on our Ride Access Pass.”
IRN-BRU Carnival is the largest indoor funfair in Europe. This year’s edition boasted over 60 attractions, rides and stalls, both for children and families. Some of the attractions included thrill and family rides, bungee trampolines, an ice mirror maze and ball and shoot games. The Carnival has also piloted a new autism-friendly policy this year, organising an “Autism Friendly Evening” on 9 January with reduced-volume music and flashing light effects.
AG Barr, the maker of IRN-BRU, who are not connected with managing the Carnival itself but are its main sponsor, have commented with the following statement: “…As a sponsor, we believe in supporting events that are fair to everyone.”