According to the 2021 Nepal Census, 2.2% of the Nepali population is disabled. Inaccessible venues, lack of accessible communication and social stigma has meant that most of the 650,000 disabled people in Nepal are excluded from civic and cultural participation. That said, through accessibility adjustments that could help disabled people participate in events, great impact can be created in the lives of disabled and non-disabled people, the arts sector and civic society as a whole:
Disabled audiences will make the events more diverse, but this can also be a viable business development prospect for art projects and events.
Disabled artists are able to bring in diverse perspectives, ideas and stories that can enrich Nepali arts.
Beyond the Norm is a guide to planning inclusive and accessible festivals and events which can address gaps that has led to the exclusion of disabled people. Developed by Diverse Patterns with the support of the British Council, this short guidebook addresses the lack of knowledge and information on implementing disability-accessible programmes and provides practical tips on how both virtual and in-person programmes can be made inclusive.
Sagar Prasai of Diverse Patterns has been a part of the disability sector for more than 15 years now with contributions in inclusive education and employment. We first met Sagar in 2019 when he was volunteering to develop an inclusive website for the then-upcoming Nepal International Theatre Festival. Since then, Sagar has been a regular collaborator of the British Council, helping us bring the disability and arts sector together.
In 2022, Sagar travelled as a British Council delegate to Unlimited Festival, Southbank Centre, London, where he got the opportunity to experience a fully accessible festival that showcased and promoted the works of disabled artists. Realising the need for there to be literature that could be used to make Nepali arts and culture more accessible, Sagar started working on a document which contains practical knowledge and information on how activities, events and festivals can be planned with disability accessibility in mind. This has resulted in the development of Beyond the Norm, a handy guide which we hope can influence and support the implementation of accessible programmes in Nepal.