Upbeat: Blind corners

THE Royal National Institute for the Blind, Capital Radio and Artsline (the London-based information service for the disabled) join forces next week to launch The Smooth Guide. This handbook provides details on how 50 music venues in London make provision for the disabled - from access arrangements and ticket discounting to how easy it is to find loos.

Simon Labbett of the RNIB, who is co-editor, reckons that while classical music venues come out better than average, there is still much that could be done. 'It's still the case that three major venues I can think of insist on blind people being escorted into the auditorium for reasons of fire safety,' he says. 'Some people believe this amounts to a form of discrimination.'

Labbett also remains surprised at how even provisions for the blind aren't always thought through. 'You may find a wheelchair ramp up into a venue . . . great . . . and then lots of steps to climb inside. Or a beautiful washroom for the disabled that's decorated in white with no colour contrasts, so that the partially-sighted can't pick out where the loo actually is.'

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