New research has found three quarters of Deaf and disabled gig goers feel discriminated against when booking tickets for live music events.

Photo of Agnes Obel
A performance at the Roundhouse, one of the venues to sign up to the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition

A new initiative aiming to remove barriers to booking tickets for Deaf and disabled gig goers has seen several major arts venues join forces with ticket sellers, membership bodies and festival providers.

Called the ‘Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition’, the group, co-ordinated by membership organisation Attitude is Everything (AIE), will “exchange ideas, issues and solutions” and work towards “a single, unified vision for what best practice means”.

This could involve further developing a ‘proof of access card’ and ensuring the same terminology is used by venues when discussing access requirements.

AIE has also published a new report on the barriers facing the 3.3 million Deaf and disabled music fans who go to gigs every year, finding the majority feel discriminated against when trying to book access requirements with their tickets.

Coalition

The Southbank Centre, Roundhouse and Sage Gateshead are among the arts venues to have signed up to the new coalition, joining organisations including UK Music, PRS for Music, Ticketmaster, Festival Republic and Live Nation.

These organisations have committed to working towards an equal booking experience for Deaf and disabled music fans. They will work together to identify ways of meeting the needs of bookers outlined in the report, including:

  • A simple and universal proof-of-disability system that is uniformly recognised and accepted across the UK
  • Quality access information online and disability-aware customer service, including consistent terminology for access bookings across venues
  • Choice and flexibility when booking tickets, with access bookings available online, via email and telephone
  • A guarantee that access requirements will be met, with bookings available as soon as tickets go on sale and managed by a contactable member of staff
  • Equal access to everything, including pre-sales, VIP and artist meet-up tickets, and personal assistant tickets for any Deaf or disabled person who requires one.

New report

AIE has launched the coalition to coincide with its State of Access report, an annual study into the barriers Deaf and disabled people face when attending live music events.

While previous reports have focused on the clarity of information available on venue websites and the accessibility of facilities, this year’s focus is on the experience of pre-booking reasonable adjustments to meet access requirements.

These could include a ticket for a personal assistant, bringing in an assistance dog, having access to special foods, or being guided to a seat.

Of more than 300 respondents, representing Deaf or disabled gig-goers and those who book tickets for them, 79% said they had been put off buying tickets because of problems booking the right sort of access requirements, 73% said they felt discriminated against when trying to book tickets, and 11% had considered legal action.

The report notes bad experiences of booking tickets have led to lasting negative perceptions among Deaf and disabled fans, with many blaming venues (51%) and ticketing companies (61%).

Best practice

Since AIE’s 2014 report, an Access Card has been developed and delivered via a social enterprise set up by Nimbus Disability. 10,000 Deaf and disabled people have signed up for the card, which is accepted by 181 events venues and two ticketing companies, The Ticket Factory and Ticketmaster.

The research found three in four respondents thought the situation for Deaf and disabled ticket bookers had either improved or stayed the same, with just 9% believing it has got worse.

“Whilst we embrace a competitive spirit when it comes to pushing the boundaries of live music accessibility, the key message of this report is that the industry now needs to collectively agree a baseline set of standards when it comes to the implementation of access booking,” the report reads.

“We need promoters, managers and artists to join venues, events and ticketing companies in tackling this issue and finding solutions that work for everyone.

“Let 2018 be the year in which the industry joins forces to begin a step-change in
access booking.”

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