Viewing platforms improve the experience of watching live music for Deaf and disabled customers. Venues that do not provide viewing areas may find it impossible to provide a view of the event with uncompromised sightlines. As disabled customers pay the same price for their tickets as non-disabled customers, under the Equality Act venues must provide everybody with an equal experience.
A viewing area need not necessarily be a raised platform. Smaller venues may have a reserved area at the front of the venue near the stage to give wheelchair users or seated disabled people a suitable view of the performance without the need for structural changes.
We think these are the most important factors to consider and put in place when providing a viewing area:
Have the viewing area in a position that will give a good view of the stage. This will normally be at the front left or right side of stage. On occasion a viewing area my only be possible in the wings, off stage, if this is the case thought to additional amplification should be given to ensure everyone gets the quality of sound you would expect at an event.
Viewing areas will need to be identified; this can be done by simply marking out an area on the floor with gaffa tape. Post and tension barrier can be used or if the area needs to be kept more secure, ped barrier.
Supervision of a viewing area is highly recommended. Having a steward positioned there is the best option. If a dedicated steward is not possible then ensure a member of stage security is also responsible for this area.
Access to drinks and toilets
Due to the potential position of the viewing areas direct access to the bar or toilets may not be possible, if this is the case then a steward should be able to obtain drinks for the users of this area and assist customers through the crowd to toilets and on the return journey.
The option of ear protection should be offered to people using a viewing area as due to there design they are normally positioned close to speakers.
For venues and festivals building a viewing platform we recommend you consider:
- Platform Size
- Platform Height
- Ramp Gradient
- Kick Boards
- Colour Contrasting
- Ramp and Viewing Platform Surfaces
- Accessible Toilet Location
- Barriers and Fencing
- Stewarding and Security
- Who can use the Viewing Platform
We have a detailed fact sheet which covers all of the above points and sets out recommendations with useful advice. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in receiving the viewing platform guidance.
Our State of Access Report found that the viewing platform is the key factor that influences both the accessibility ratings from our Mystery Shoppers, and overall enjoyment of the event.
- 42% of venues and 67% of festivals had viewing platforms or areas.
- The average access rating for venues with a viewing platform is 7.1 out of 10, compared to 5.1 without.
- The average access rating at festivals falls from 6.2 out of 10, to 4.3 when there is no platform present.