Access Starts Online extended to include all UK venues and festivals

Posted on 23.02.2016

Access Starts Online extended to include all UK venues and festivals

The publication of our third State of Access Report heralds the launch of the Access Starts Online campaign to encompass all UK venues and festivals, with the initiative having previously been soft-launched with the Association of Independent Festivals  in November 2015 and Independent Venue Week in January 2016.

The campaign provides venues and festivals with an easy-to-follow process to create high quality access information for Deaf and disabled people, based on straightforward best practice guidance.

The 2016 State of Access Report demonstrates that there is clear a need for this universal guidance across the industry, in order to rectify the fact that a significant minority of venues and festivals provide no access information at all, whilst the majority of those that do provide information offer content that is incomplete or lacking in detail.

As the report shows, access information is a crucial gateway for many Deaf and disabled people when it comes to gauging if a venue or festival might meet their access requirements and thus whether or not they should invest in tickets.

Key findings

The report includes the results from a survey of 386 venue and festival websites. This study found that whilst 65% offered some access information, of these 250, only 26% provided content rated as ‘good’. A total of 52% of all the venues and festivals surveyed provided poor information or none at all.

The data provided by mystery shopper supports these findings, with 35% of venues and festivals visited providing no access information. The impact of this for event organisers is neatly summed up in the words of one shopper as featured in the report:

I’ve often thought about going to events at the venue, but decided against it as there is no information on their website about access.

Venue trends

A total of 251 individual venues were surveyed. 60% of venues were found to have some access information, with the remaining 40% having none. Of the venues with some information, 73% had a dedicated access information page. Only 24% of venues featuring information provided content rated as ‘good’. Of the remaining venues, 56% were rated ‘adequate’ and 20% were rated ‘poor’.

A survey of Ents24 top music venues found that 76% provided some access-related information, with the remaining 24% providing none. However, only 37% of venues featuring information provided content rated as ‘good’. An impressive 87% of venues that featured access information on their websites did so via a dedicated webpage. This list leans towards larger and more established venues, perhaps explaining the higher proportion of venues having some information and a dedicated webpage.

A parallel survey of independent venues revealed that only 31% provided some access information. Of those who did provide web content, 50% were rated as ‘poor’, meaning that in many cases only a sentence and email address was provided. This highlights the disproportionate number of small and independent venues that currently fail to provide quality access information.

Festival trends

A total of 135 individual festivals were surveyed. 74% of festivals were found to have some access information, with the remaining 26% having none. Of the festivals with some information, 60% had a dedicated access information page. Only 28% of festivals featuring information provided content rated as ‘good’. Of the remaining venues, 35% were rated ‘adequate’ and 37% were rated ‘poor’.

When we surveyed the Guardian’s 85 top festivals, we found that 73% provided some access-related information. 60% of festivals that provided some access information did so via a dedicated webpage. Despite the good number of festivals providing some information, only 21% provided content rated as ‘good’.

We also looked at independent festivals separately and found an almost identical proportion provided some access information – 72%. In contrast to the top festivals list, however, only 47% of independent festivals provided information via a dedicated webpage. The number of information-providing festivals rated as ‘good’ was again only 21%.

Scale trends

Our mystery shoppers found that there was a greater gap between the likelihood of small venues offering access information versus medium and large venues (54% compared to 70% and 72% respectively).  With festivals, the difference was more negligible, with 66% of small festivals, 67% of medium festivals, and 64% of large festivals providing information.

This suggests that there might be more of a culture of small festivals looking to larger and more established rivals and seeking to emulate the website provision offered, whereas small venues, with their perhaps increased reliance on social media platforms, might be more likely to overlook website improvements.

Learn more

In the section titled ‘Access Relies on Information’, the State of Access Report 2016 presents the data included in this article, and goes on to demonstrate why access information is so important and the key factors involved in getting it right. Beyond the benefits to customers, we present the ways in which tackling this topic can have many knock-on benefits for organisers regarding back-office administration and staff briefings.

Join the campaign

In the Foreword of the report, Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis calls on the live music industry to tackle this issue:

It is vital that festival goers can easily access clear information about how to buy tickets, what facilities are available onsite and how they can arrange for the necessary support in order to be able to attend. This principle applies to any event and it is for this reason that I urge all venue and festival organisers to ensure that they provide high quality and comprehensive access information based on the guidance of Attitude is Everything.

To find out how your venue or festival can join the campaign today, visit the campaign page to learn more.