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Improve online booking to make live music events disability-friendly, says report

A survey has found that 79% of people with disabilities have been put off buying live music tickets due to problems with booking access requirements, and 73% have felt discriminated against when booking, with many of the issues related to problematic websites and online booking systems.

The findings are taken from the State of Access Report 2018, published by the Attitude is Everything charity. The report examines the process of ‘access booking’ for live music events, defined as booking ‘reasonable adjustments’ or access requirements alongside tickets. This could include wheelchair accessible spaces, step-free seats, or additional tickets for a ‘personal assistant’ to attend a show and provide support.

The State of Access results are based on the experiences of 349 respondents to a survey, comprised of 293 ‘deaf and disabled people’ (84%) and 56 people who book access on behalf of someone who is deaf or disabled (16%).

Other key findings were that 82% of respondents had experienced problems when booking access, and 11% had considered taking legal action as a result of problems encountered.

Although the majority of people (70%) preferred to book online, the report uncovered a number of issues with the process, including inaccessible websites and booking systems. As the report notes, “The industry makes considerable use of splash pages and pop-ups with images overlaid with embedded text – design decisions which render information effectively invisible to some users using assisted technology”.

Lack of clear access information was another issue. Respondents noted that not all music venues provide this information on their websites, making them reluctant to book tickets for gigs at those venues.

Jacob Adams, Campaign Manager at Attitude is Everything (which works to improve live music access for people with disabilities), told e-Access Bulletin that although stricter legislation on website accessibility might help the situation, the focus needed to be on other approaches. He said: “We think a bigger priority is to encourage companies to take a joined-up approach to website accessibility, incorporating not just the technical side, but the teams responsible for graphics and text-based information. We want to support the industry to pass on responsibility to all involved in working together to improve website accessibility.”

Despite the barriers, there were positive findings in the report. Three quarters of respondents thought that the situation for deaf and disabled customers when booking access for live music events “had either improved or stayed the same over the last four years.”

The report also discusses the potential for ticketing companies and venues to set up ‘online access booking’ – in other words, giving customers the ability to view and select different access requirements during the online booking stage.

To help work towards this and address other booking issues, the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition has been established, featuring organisations from across the music industry, including key ticketing companies (such as Ticketmaster and See Tickets), live music venues (including The O2 and Barbican in London) and events companies (such as Live Nation and Festival Republic).

Speaking about the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition, Adams said: “A major aim of the coalition is to encourage a uniform approach to access booking across the industry. An increasing number of ticketing companies are now engaging with us directly to assist them in looking at their website accessibility, so we hope that many improvements will be achieved in the coming years.”

Find out more about State of Access 2018 and read the report in full, in PDF or text, at the Attitude is Everything website.


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