Disabled Fans Need: Choice and Flexibility

Posted on 30.05.2018

Disabled Fans Need: Choice and Flexibility

Our 2018 State of Access Report found that Deaf and disabled music fans still face a range of avoidable barriers when trying to book tickets for live music events – over 80% of our survey respondents had experienced problems during the booking process, and three quarters felt discriminated against.

In order to support the live music sector in removing those barriers, we’ve outlined five key things that Deaf and disabled fans need in order to have an equal experience of access booking.

This is the third in a series of articles exploring those recommendations in more detail. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Part 3: Deaf and disabled fans need choice and flexibility when booking tickets.

A key issue that came across time and time again through our Access Booking Survey was a lack of flexibility – rigid booking systems, inflexible definitions of accessible tickets, and a lack of choice of booking method, all have the same impact – disabled fans are shut out.

‘Accessible Tickets’ vs Individual Needs

‘Accessible ticket’ packages, which bundle together a range of different access provisions in one, can be very convenient for some customers, but when this is the only option on offer it can cause a number of problems for people with differing needs.

Inflexible systems for the allocation of PA tickets can lead to customer’s choices being limited, and what ‘accessible’ space there is being taken up unnecessarily:

“Some venues have seats I’ve identified as accessible [for me] - but they aren’t available to me because they aren’t designated as accessible. Even if I manage to book them, I’m denied a PA ticket because the seat isn’t classed as ‘accessible’.”

For other customers, the bundling together of PA tickets and accessible seating causes the opposite problem:

“Staff said that I needed to pre-register to claim a PA ticket, but became utterly flummoxed when I said I didn't want a PA ticket, just to be safe [on a viewing platform]. They couldn't work out how to do it!”

The impact of this type of policy is people simply being unable to attend:

“[I was told that] I could only get a free carer ticket if I used the wheelchair platform but the tickets for that were all booked so I could not attend the gig in a local venue.”

A ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. Deaf and disabled fans need flexible booking systems which provide people with the necessary information and options to book the access provisions they need.

A range of booking methods is essential

Providing a range of different methods for Deaf and disabled customers to book access is essential, as there is no one booking method which is accessible to everyone. Additionally, some disabled fans will need to discuss their access requirements in advance of attending an event via a medium accessible to them:

“On the whole I think speaking to a designated department at the venue is brilliant. You feel more secure about the facilities being available when you arrive.”

Email communication enables people who can’t use the phone to discuss their access requirements, and also provides the reassurance of written confirmation:

“[With] an email I can print off confirmation of my requirements and instructions from staff.”

Of the respondents to our Access Booking Survey, a massive 70% said they would prefer to book online, with booking by phone being the second most popular method at 20%. However, booking over the phone is often the only option available to disabled fans. For some this is totally inaccessible:

“I use the Text Relay service for Deaf people but often get staff who just hang up the call - so frustrating.”

“I have Tourette’s syndrome and can't access many voice automated systems. I also experience unpredictable reactions from phone operators.”

For others it means missing out on tickets:

“I have missed out on tickets for a few gigs recently as I sat on hold for over an hour, yet my wife sitting next to me was online and able to get non-accessible seating tickets easily.”

Or a loss of independence:

“It would be useful to be able to just book online [myself] and not have to ask my husband to make the call for me, and explain my needs, every time I want to book a concert or a show.”

11% of people who participated in the Access Booking Survey had considered legal action. The main reason people gave was having to use a phone line to book when standard tickets were available online.

But online booking is also not accessible to everyone – further illustrating the importance of a range of options:

“Websites for ticket booking are often not accessible for people with vision impairments or for those using magnification or screen readers. This is partly down to the amount of pictures, advertisements, tables and diagrams which are used.”

Whatever the booking method, good information and customer service is also key in ensuring disabled customers have their needs met.

Our Vision for Access Booking: Choice and Flexibility

  • The following bookable online:
    • Wheelchair accessible spaces, transfer positions and step-free seating.
    • PA tickets / seats in any location.
    • Locations for hearing loop / BSL interpretation / captioning / audio description.
  • PA tickets bookable for any location within a venue or outdoor site.
  • Call-back options integrated into access booking lines.
  • Whole party booking available when booking personal access.
  • All seating options include information about distances before confirmation of booking.
  • Access booking systems integrating online, email and telephone booking preferences.