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Ticketing Barriers For Deaf And Disabled Music Fans Highlighted

April 10, 2018

More than 80% of deaf and disabled music fans have experienced problems when booking tickets to live music events, with one in 10 considering legal action over the difficulty of accessing concerts and festivals.

The fourth annual report by Attitude Is Everything, a charity dedicated to improving deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, included the results of their access booking survey, which received 349 responses. Almost 80% of respondents said they had been put off buying tickets due to non-accessible booking systems, with more than 70% saying they felt discriminated against. Thirty-seven per cent said they felt that access to booking had improved over the past four years.

In response to the findings, AIE has formed the Ticketing Without Barriers coalition, comprising more than 130 venues and festivals, over 30 trade bodies, leading ticketing agencies including Ticketmaster and See Tickets, and event promoters such as Live Nation, Festival Republic and AEG Events.

The organisation has identified five key areas where action is required to improve the experience of disabled customers. In order to acquire a complimentary carer’s ticket, disabled patrons are required to produce “proof of disability”, for which there is currently no single system. AIE recommend the creation of a universal policy adopted across the UK music industry.

Disabled fans have reported losing out on tickets to in-demand events – such as Ed Sheeran’s forthcoming arena tour – due to insufficient booking systems only accessible by phone. Fans require all venues and events to provide comprehensive access information online, and the adoption of uniform terminology and disability awareness and inclusive communication training for sales staff, say AIE, while accessibility requirements should be integrated into standard online booking systems.

The organisation also addressed the need for disabled fans to be able to access pre-sales, VIP areas and artist “meet-and-greet” events, and for gift cards to apply to access bookings.

Suzanne Bull MBE, chief executive officer for Attitude Is Everything and a disability sector Champion for Music said: “In 2018, every large-scale music event should be all-inclusive. Disabled customers should be able to buy a ticket online, they should be encouraged to attend shows with their friends, and not have to jump through undignified hoops when things go wrong. As a disabled music fan myself, I’d urge ticket sellers, venues and festivals to understand that all disabled people must enjoy the same experiences as any other fan.”

The report has drawn support from Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, health and work, industry bodies UK Music and PRS for Music, the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, and musicians including Leeds five-piece Hookworms, who commented: “As we grow as a band and depend more on larger venues and ticketing agencies, it’s essential that our shows remain as inclusive and accessible for disabled fans as we have tried to make them on a smaller scale ourselves. No one should feel discriminated against or face barriers when attending gigs or playing music, and we call on our peers and the music industry to help realise Attitude Is Everything’s vision for ticketing without barriers.”

AIE’s survey highlighted the contribution that disabled audiences make to Britain’s live music industry – worth £1bn a year according to 2017 UK Music figures – with the respondents attending an average of nine performances per year, and spending an estimated £250,000 on tickets, food, drinks and merchandise. Government data suggests that 3.3m disabled adults attend at least one live music event per year.

The report also highlighted disabled fans’ difficulties when accessing tickets across other cultural sectors. AIE intends to convene a new cross-sector group bringing together representatives from music, cinema, theatre, heritage and sport. Arts Council England, UK Theatre and the Disability Co-operative Network for Museums have pledged their support.

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