21 November 2019

Just The Ticket


Hormoz looks at a new initiative giving better ticketing access for disabled people.

Last week I went out to see a performance with one of my best gig buddies, Stuart. As a wheelchair user and an avid concert goer, he faces challenges which act as a barrier to attendance every time he wants to go to see a band or theatre show, barriers which non-disabled attenders don’t face.

He’d booked the tickets over the phone to ensure that a) we’d have a suitable space in this unreserved venue and b) there’d be a free carer ticket.

When we got there, the front of house team had not read the email reminder that Stuart had sent, and no space was reserved. So, in between the support and main act, we literally had to create a space at the front, thanks to the cooperation of the rest of the attenders. It was awkward, it drew attention, it should not have happened.

Sound familiar?

Of course, there’s a whole other level of access to tickets for D/deaf people unable to phone a box office…

Venues and ticketing systems have struggled to find the right ways to accommodate a range of conditions and disabilities into booking processes, especially with the ‘free carer ticket’ and, whilst most box office systems will have details of a person’s disability on their customer record to make the process smoother over the phone, online booking has always remained a problem, reducing the options for disabled people, often forcing them to use premium phone lines which, in many cases, are hijacked by non-disabled customers desperate for fast-selling tickets.

The statistics are staggering. The report, from the UK charity Attitude is Everything, reveals that 82% of D/deaf and disabled music lovers questioned, had difficulties booking tickets to live music events, while more than 73% felt discriminated against.

It also found that 1 in 10 had considered legal action.

But now, ticketing giant Ticketmaster have developed an online booking system which requires a disabled person to register details of their requirements only once, and then allows the user to access the tickets which meet those requirements.

D/deaf users will be able to book seats online appropriate to the position of signers or subtitles. Wheelchair users will be able to book correct spaces. Carer tickets will be included.

At last, disabled ticket buyers will have the same options for booking as everyone else.

Of course, not all venues use Ticketmaster so it’s not all hunky dory just yet, and the system is still being trialed in selected venues, but where Ticketmaster leads, other systems follow.

Read more on the BBC website here.

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