So we haven’t blogged in a really long time! Shameful I know. Work gets busy, life gets busy and what with touring, funding applications and creating new work, blogging always falls to the bottom of the list. As most of you know will already know Frozen Light create touring multi-sensory theatre for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). When we are on the road I always have a brain full of blog ideas- things I get annoyed about and want to share with the world (where are all the changing places toilets?!!). Things that make me extremely happy and I want to shout about. But then, like today when I sit down to write those blogs, my brain is blank, nothing in it. I can’t remember any of those things that made me so angry I wanted to cry or so happy I also want to cry (I cry a lot).
I’ve been trying to write a blog about disability terminology and why we use the phrase ‘people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities’ when talking about our audience. It’s something we get asked about a lot so I wanted to take time to answer those questions. But I have been writing and re-writing for over an hour and nothing is coming out right (I promise to publish it soon…) so here I am, scrolling through Google looking for inspiration, looking for videos and articles about the lives of people with PMLD that will back up my ideas, that will make me sound more interesting. But guess what, I can barely find anything! Obviously, there is the wonderful PMLD Link but you need to subscribe to the Journal (which you should all do) to access the information. There is all the great stuff MENCAP put out in its Involve Me and Raising Our Sights projects but that was at least 5 years ago. Where are the people shouting about the rights of people with PMLD? Scope have an amazing YouTube channel that is really challenging the way society treats people with disabilities and again this is wonderful but where are the voices of people with PMLD?
I’m not saying that there is nothing out there because I am sure there is if you have time to scroll through mountains of websites but to me everything seems so dated and old, like once you have written about people with PMLD you don’t need to bother anymore (in this I am in no way including all the incredible blogs out there written by parents and carers of people with PMLD who do an amazing job of sharing people’s stories). Who I am talking about is the big national charities, the ones who champion the rights of people with learning disabilities, they do an incredible job but where is the voice of the people with PMLD? They are forgotten again. They are too quiet and too invisible. There is always someone who shouts louder, someone who is able to jump the queue in front of the person sitting quietly in a corner. It is so important that we don’t forget people with PMLD. People with PMLD are some of the most vulnerable and excluded people in society – we mustn’t forget them. I am putting together a list of the resources, articles and videos that I am finding- and will certainly be blogging about articles that inspire me in the future.
At Frozen Light we are trying to do our small bit to get the theatre sector talking about our audience. Training them to see what an important audience people with PMLD are and how just by making small adjustments you can easily open your doors and make your venue more accessible to this audience. But maybe we are not shouting loud enough. We only visit theatres once every two years when we have a new show. What can we do to ensure that these theatres keep having an offer so that people with PMLD can access the theatre more than once every two years? How can we leave a legacy for our audience? These are issues we are trying to tackle. We have been invited to be on a panel at an upcoming disability arts conference, this signals a change because often at events like this people with PMLD are not on the agenda. We are looking to run more artist training schemes to encourage more artists to realise what an exciting group this is to make work for and how, working in a sensory way can really expand the way you think about theatre and art. We will continue to champion changing places toilets and share information about them wherever we go. But we want to do more- we need to do more. How can we use our platform to shout out for people with PMLD to make them more visible in society? Answers on a postcard please!