Disabled Fans Need: Universal Proof of Access Requirements

Posted on 02.05.2018

Disabled Fans Need: Universal Proof of Access Requirements

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 first of a series of articles exploring those recommendations in more detail.

Part 1: Deaf and disabled fans need a simple and universal system for evidencing access requirements.

It is sometimes necessary for Deaf and disabled fans to provide proof of access requirements [1] when requesting a reasonable adjustment which has a cost attached, or has limited availability – such as a Personal Assistant (PA) ticket, or a space on a viewing platform.

However, this can cause difficulties, like different venues having different evidence requirements, and delays in the booking process – particularly problematic for sell-out events.

To combat this, we recommend that venues implement an access scheme where customers can submit evidence once and have their access requirements on file (guidance setting up an access scheme and what evidence to accept can be found here and here). 82% of our survey respondents said they would sign up to a scheme of this type if it was available.

“Not having to repeatedly submit information of proof of disability is a massive time saver.”

But even with that in place, customers still have to do this for every different venue they visit. This puts a time-consuming, administrative burden on disabled music fans. It’s not a perfect solution.

The Access Card

One solution to this problem is to have an externally administered evidence scheme which venues accept as evidence upon booking. Currently, there are three major examples of this kind of scheme:

The CEA Card and Hynt Card entitle their holders to a free PA ticket, and focus on particular types of venue: the CEA Card is widely accepted in cinemas across the UK, and the Hynt Card is a free card covering participating theatres and arts centres in Wales.

“Good experiences have mostly come through systems that accept the Access Card as it has my unique requirements on it. When I do it this way I feel like I have the same experience as everyone else.”

The Access Card is a bit different. It covers a wide range of access requirements, translating them into symbols that indicate the reasonable adjustments the holder requires, and it can cover any type of cultural or entertainment venue, from live music, to theatre, to sport.

It also has a unique number for each holder, which can be integrated into online booking systems. Booking online was the preferred method of 70% of our survey respondents, but is still largely unavailable to disabled customers.

“The Access Card has been amazing, I just wish more venues linked with them for online bookings.”

The Ticket Factory’s experience of integrating the Access Card into their online booking systems shows the positive impact it can have:

“It provides a seamless booking experience and negates the need for disabled customers to call the agent’s contact centre and share personal medical details over the phone. The Ticket Factory’s integration of the Access Card’s nationwide data into its technology systems generates an instant understanding of each customer’s access needs.” – Richard Howle, Director of Ticketing, The Ticket Factory

While the Access Card is accepted by over 300 businesses across the country, including nearly 200 live events venues, there’s still a way to go towards complete coverage. Venues, ticketing companies and customers can find out more here.

Aside from coverage, the only downside of the Access Card is the cost to members – it currently costs £15 for three years. Their long-term aspiration is to find a sustainable funding model to remove this cost.

Universal Proof Means One Card for Everything

“The issue is that I have got about five cards for different venues and a separate one for the cinema. Two cards I had to pay for. There should be just one card system that is universally recognised by every arts, culture and sports venue, cafe, restaurant – basically everything you want to do. Then life would be easy!”

We are of the firm opinion that Deaf and disabled consumers ultimately need a single, free (funded), universally-accepted and cross-sector proof of disability scheme, which captures the nuances of people’s access requirements and includes people who do not receive disability-related benefits.

However, it is still important that the industry continues to accept other forms of evidence, and not make access bookings solely dependent upon joining a card scheme.

Our Vision for Evidencing Access Requirements

  • A single, free proof of access requirements card that can be used across the UK and across all sectors.
  • Uniform evidencing policy adopted across the industry, as outlined in STAR’s Best Practice Guide and our Charter of Best Practice.
  • No venue or event referring to the now defunct term ‘registered disabled’.

Terminology Explainer

We use ‘proof of access requirements’ because it focuses on specific access needs, rather than ‘proof of disability’, which is often reduced to someone’s benefit status, and is related to the long-defunct notion that people can be ‘registered disabled’.