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Vancouver Writers Festival: Equity and Accessibility

2022 marks the 35th anniversary of the Vancouver Writers Festival. Inaugurated in 1988, the festival has presented multiple award-winning writers from across Canada and around the world. After cancellations and adjustments experienced in 2020 and 2021, The Vancouver Writers Festival is back in full swing, with almost all in-person events. We wanted to spotlight this festival, not only for the amazing content and people involved, but for the inclusivity and the actions being taken to ensure anyone can be a guest.

In an ableist society like ours, a lot of individuals are left out when it comes to public places and live events: people suffering from hearing loss, those with disabilities that require them to be accompanied by a companion, and people with physical disabilities, as well as low-income individuals who may not get the opportunity to experience cultural events. With these factors in mind, the Writers Fest has thrown down an extra-large welcome mat this year! Not only are there a number of sign-language interpreted events, but when given enough notice, an interpreter can be provided at additional ones. People who have special seating requirements and are unable to sit in the seats provided by the venue are given the opportunity to alert staff so they can be made comfortable before the rest of the audience arrives. Gender-neutral washrooms and pay-what-you-can/free admission are among the many other ways Writers Fest is making sure everyone is invited.

Literature is something that brings people together in so many different ways – I have never met someone who mentioned they read the same book I’m reading and not had a conversation about what we like/dislike about it. It seems so appropriate that Writers Fest is going the extra mile to keep us all connected and to make each of us feel acknowledged. Equity means providing each individual with the resources they need in order for everyone to achieve the same experience or end result; thank you Vancouver Writers Festival for making that possible!

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