Charity study says disabled people’s experience at venues is ruined by poor booking systems and limited seating facilities
“Shambolic” ticket booking systems and venues which force audience members who use wheelchairs to sit apart from family and friends are ruining the experience of live music for thousands of disabled people, according to research by a muscular dystrophy charity.
Disabled music fans told of being forced to spend hours calling premium rate telephone lines to buy accessible tickets to see their favourite artists, having to sit away from friends at venues owing to a cap on companion seats and even missing out on concerts all together when venues did not accept “proof of disability” on time.
One young gig goer, Sulaiman Khan, from London said nine out of 10 venues he went to had an area which he referred to as the “disabled cage”.
“We are all supposed to sit together like one big happy family. For me it’s not an issue, but it should be up to the individual to choose,” he added.
The study by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers – a 500-strong group of 16- to 30-year-old disabled people –also reported cases where fans were asked to vacate venues before the end of the show to “avoid disruption” for other customers.
Since the implementation of the Equality Act 2010, and legislation dating back to 1995, it has been illegal for service providers, including live music venues, to treat disabled people less favourably than any other customers.
But The Trailblazers’ Access All Areas study, which drew on the experiences of 100 young disabled people, found 77% believed that systems for booking tickets for a live-music event put them at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled friends.
Some major ticket websites do not even offer the option to book accessible tickets online.
Half of those questioned complained that facilities provided at venues, such as toilets, bars and food stalls, were not suitable, while 94% said last-minute ticketing websites such as Seatwave.com did not cater for disabled people. The limited availability of accessible seating was found to be particularly problematic.
Louise Mullock, a spokesperson for Seatwave, said: “Seatwave does not issue any tickets itself – it is a platform to allow the safe and secure reselling of tickets. As such, it the ticket sellers who provide information to buyers on the ticket location and whether it offers disabled access. Where disabled access applies to a ticket, it is clearly displayed as a note to the buyer.
“While we sympathise with the findings of the Trailblazer report, we cannot control the number of disabled-access tickets that are offered for sale on Seatwave.”
With the festival season now underway and Glastonbury starting later this week, Trailblazers is calling on the live-music industry to level the playing field for disabled music fans to make sure they can enjoy the same experience as their non-disabled peers. They will meet on Wednesday with MPs and representatives from the industry to discuss ways to resolve the issues facing young, disabled music-lovers.
Bobby Ancil, Trailblazers’ project manager, said: “For many, going to concerts, gigs and festivals is a fundamental part of being young. However, if you are disabled, accessing live music can be far from straightforward.”
He said there was no doubt that many venues have made significant headway in improving their facilities for disabled customers: “However, we want to see the creation of an online booking option for all disabled music fans at live venues and more inclusive venue designs to ensure that disabled people can sit with more than one friend or assistant without compromising the view of the stage or their ability to enjoy a performance.”
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.