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Ideas / Album / Liberty
Liberty: London's Disability Rights Festival


Liberty is an event which has been held annually in London since 2003. It is a free festival of music, arts and dance, at which many of the performers are disabled or deaf. Everyone is welcome to attend.

In 2010 this event is on Saturday 4th September from 1pm to 6pm, in Trafalgar Square.

Liberty: London's Disability Rights Festival 2005. Picture of the sign at the bottom of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square
The Medal Ceremony: one of the highlights of the 2008 Liberty event

Liberty is the most accessible outdoor festival in London (although getting to Trafalgar Square is not easy for everyone).

Upper half of the sign outside the Information Desk. The event programme is available in large print, braille and tape formats. Audio description headsets can be collected from the Information Desk.
Lower half of the sign outside the Information Desk. The event programme is available in large print, braille and tape formats. Audio description headsets can be collected from the Information Desk. There is a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter on the stage. Mini induction loops are provided to help people who are partially deaf.

The pictures below were taken at the 2005 event.


The two comperes were the comedians Steve Day and Liz Carr. They had recently performed together in "Abnormally Funny People" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Photo of Steve Day, a partially deaf comedian who always has a broad smile on his face
Picture of Liz Carr on stage in her wheelchair. She has quite a sharp and sarcastic sense of humour


Minika Green performed songs from musicals, including "Fame" and "Thank you for the music". The audience appreciated her great voice. Thank you for your music, Minika ...

Minika Green, on the left,  is singing wonderfully from her scooter-style wheelchair. She is accompanied by a male and female singer. The ladies are all dressed in white, and the man in black


Sign Dance Collective performed a new work called “But Beautiful”, combining sign dance, film and jazz. They danced among the audience as well as on the stage.


Caroline Parker encourages the audience to join in with sign language for some popular songs, starting with Village People's hit "YMCA". Other songs included Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" and the Eurythmics song "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves".

Caroline Parker makes a big "Y" sign during the YMCA song. Her colourful clothes include rainbow-striped trousers
Picture of the large screen which was set up on the left of the stage. Caroline is on the right, and the words of the YMCA song are on the left.


Heart 'n Soul is an arts organisation based in London, led by artists with learning disabilities. A range of songs were performed, both lively numbers and moving personal ballads.

One of the ladies from Heart 'n' Soul, dressed all in pink
Another of the singers, dressed in black, sings a moving ballad that he has written


Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, was one of the speakers. He has encouraged events such as Liberty, helped to bring the Paralympic Games to London in 2012, and has promoted greater disabled access on London's public transport (especially on the buses). However, as one of the other speakers pointed out, a lot more needs to be done. Disabled people are much more likely to be unemployed and poor. There are still many barriers to be overcome, most importantly in changing attitudes towards disability.

Ken Livingstone speaks into a microphone on the stage. In his left hand is his speech, while in his right hand (out of the picture) is a child he brought on stage with him


Totlyn Jackson is a jazz singer from Jamaica. She has performed around the world. One of the songs which she said she has often been asked to perform is the Calypso song "Day-O" (formally called the Banana Boat Song, made famous by Harry Belafonte). The audience sings along "Day-o, Day-o, Daylight come and we want go home", but noone wants to go home yet ...

Totlyn Jackson giving a powerful singing performance. She looks like a true diva, wearing a shiny golden top and big earrings. Behind her is a member of her band, playing an electric guitar


Blue Eyed Soul (Claire Cunningham and Jami Quarrell) performed "Touch/Don't TOUCH" on a special stage in front of the National Gallery. This was a very sensual and acrobatic performance, accompanied by recordings of their voices describing the actions and emotions. Don't try this at home ...!

Jami is like a table, with his arms behind him and his legs bent at the knees. Claire 's feet are on his knees, and she is leaning back on her crutches.
Claire is swinging in front of the National Gallery, her back supported by a hanging sheet. Jami is above her, holding onto the sheet with his two arms. Claire's crutches are lying on the floor beneath.


Creative Routes is a community arts organisation based in south-east London for people who have experienced mental health problems. It was backed by a group called the Big ECTs (ECT is an abbreviation for "electro-convulsive therapy", which is a controversial type of treatment for some mental conditions). One of the songs performed was "Madness" by the group Madness.

Creative Routes perform on stage. Beneath one of the electric guitars is a hospital ECT sign. There is a head covered in electrical wires connected to a huge plug.

A girl plays electric guitar while another girl dances and a man plays the tambourine
Some of the props on the stage. A black cloak carries the signs "fear embodied" and "draft mental health bill". A box is labelled with the word "psychosis". One of the performers holds a skull-shaped mask in front of his face.


Besta Vista Social Club is an Afro-Latin percussion and drumming group who meet regularly for workshop sessions in South London. Percussion is a particularly accessible style of music for blind performers. Feel the beat ...

Three of the drummers performing, some using hands and others drumsticks


Unity and Devision - Unity Gain and Dru Zed - perform. They describe their act as "punkfolk raw sound blended with heartfelt harmonies and unnerving, memorable lyrics".

Unity and Devision on stage with their guitars


Susan Hedges (in the left-hand picture) is a young blind singer, songwriter and keyboard player.

Susan Hedges sings at her keyboard
A member of the band plays her electric guitar
A male guitarist


Liberty official website:
Disability Rights Commission:
Greater London Action on Disability:
Blue Eyed Soul:
Creative Routes:
Unity and Devision:
Susan Hedges:
NUS campaign for students with disabilities:

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Diary of a disabled visitor to London: Ideas/Diary/Akemi
Photos from other annual events: Ideas/Album
Trafalgar Square: Travel/Tours/London/TrafalgarSquare

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