Disabled Fans Need: Equal Access to Everything

Posted on 22.08.2018

Disabled Fans Need: Equal Access to Everything

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 final article in a series exploring those recommendations in more detail. Read more: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Part 5: Deaf and disabled fans need equal access to everything.

While most of our report focused on the basic ticket buying and access booking process, there are many other elements of the ticketing ecosystem that fail to account for the needs of disabled customers, leaving them with an unequal experience.

From pre-sale tickets to VIP packages, Deaf and disabled people should have an equal opportunity to access every part of the live music experience.


“I had a pre-sale code for a particular event and was told it was only for “normal” tickets and wheelchair access was on a first-come first-served basis on the day of sale.”

Over half of survey respondents had faced problems booking tickets through a pre-sale. Access to pre-sales is often a perk of something else which a customer has paid for – fan club or venue membership for example. It is clearly discriminatory for disabled customers to be denied access to things non-disabled customers take for granted.

This is one area where artists and promoters can often make a difference:

“For one event I eventually managed to get in contact with a member of the band who sorted this out for me personally and has ensured that all of their future events now have accessible tickets on pre-sale.”

High demand events

“I’ve given up trying to go to high demand events.”




73% of respondents had felt discriminated against when booking a high demand event.

Access lines getting blocked by calls from non-disabled customers is a key issue. Better and more widely available pre-registration schemes, including improved proof of access requirements, and access to online bookings for disabled customers, would help mitigate this.

However, booking for rapid sell-out events is stressful for everyone. We think pre-registration and lottery systems for big sales, for all customers, is a concept worthy of discussion across the industry.

VIP and artist meets

“I've never been able to attend meet and greets because the ones I've been interested in have taken place in parts of venues that aren't accessible.”

VIP packages and artist meet-and-greets are increasingly on offer in live music. However, inaccessible locations, lack of information, and inflexible package deals often prevent disabled customers from accessing them.

“I am keen to purchase meet-and-greets for various events however there is never any access information for disabled people and I’m unsure whether I’d have to pay extra for my carer.”

Booking for a party

“If I'm going with a friend, I have to buy my tickets and theirs in two separate transactions.”

Deaf and disabled people, like everyone else, like to watch live music with their friends and families. People need to be able to book their access and tickets for other members of their party at the same time.


“When there has been an event I'm not able to attend, I'm not aware of any way to sell-on tickets to other disabled users.”

While most customers have the option of selling their tickets on if unable to attend an event, there are few options for disabled customers to do so. This is a particular issue for people who sometimes have to miss events due to health conditions:

“I have a higher chance of missing gigs due to a chronic health problem so I worry about buying non-refundable advance tickets as I only get to gigs about half of the time.”

Gift vouchers

It is essential that the industry ensures entertainment gift cards can be used by all customers, including Deaf and disabled fans needing to book access.

“I’ve been told I cannot use gift vouchers to purchase tickets because the dedicated booking office specifically asks disabled customers to book through them instead and then refuse to accept the vouchers meaning that I’m unable to spend my birthday or Christmas presents.”

Fundamentally, in all of these areas, the solution is for disabled customers’ needs to be considered at every stage – rather than access being looked at as an add-on or an extra. Only then will Deaf and disabled customers have equal access to the whole live music experience.

Our Vision for Access Booking: Equal Access

  • All presales, VIP and artist meet ups, and relevant gift cards include the ability to book access.
  • Accessible seating priced in line with lowest seat prices in a venue.
  • All access booking lines use free-phone numbers.
  • Resales of accessible seating tickets facilitated.
  • Pre-registration lottery systems for anticipated sell-out sales, to enable all customers including Deaf and disabled people to avoid jammed phone-lines on the day.