Six months after a car accident that severed his spinal cord and took away his legs, Accessible Festivals co-founder Austin Whitney attended his first music festival. For the first time since his spinal cord injury, he was able to smile and simply enjoy life.

While the accessibility of the festival was limited and didn’t fully provide the necessary accommodations, he was still able to enjoy the live music experience. Realizing how much better of an experience he could have had with the proper accommodations, he decided to devote his life to ensuring people of all abilities can have an equal opportunity to experience live music and recreational activities to the fullest extent possible.

With help from his business-minded childhood friend Oren Shani, Austin combined his legal education from UC Berkeley School of Law and his own personal experience with disability to create Accessible Festivals. Today Austin assists some of the nation’s largest event promoters to ensure they are fully accessible to individuals of all abilities with the help of his team at TenFifty Entertainment. During the course of his work, he realized that personal interaction is the single most important component of a successful accessibility program. Understanding the true nature of disabilities, and the corresponding needs that arise is essential for providing the ability to have an amazing, life-changing experience, regardless of the situation.

Austin smiles at a music festival, surrounded by family, friends, and his service dog. Austin is wearing a Hawaiian print shirt.