Our fourth and most recent State of Access Report, supported by Arts Council England, PRS for Music and UK Music, examined the barriers faced by Deaf and disabled people when trying to book tickets for live music events, and set out our vision for ticketing without barriers.
The report includes the findings from a public survey, and the combined voice of hundreds of Deaf and disabled gig-goers, highlighting barriers faced when trying to book tickets and access for live music events.
Our survey found that, despite progress being made, a range of barriers still existed. Of more than 300 respondents:
- 82% had experienced problems booking access
- 79% had been put off buying gig tickets due to problems booking access
- 73% had felt discriminated against when trying to book access
- 11% had considered legal action
On a more positive note, three quarters of respondents thought that the situation for Deaf and disabled customers when booking access for live music had either improved or stayed the same over the last four years, while only 9% felt it had got worse.
Our vision for access booking
Drawing on 18 years of experience in this area at the time, and the findings of the survey, we highlighted the 5 key elements needed to ensure an equal booking experience for Deaf and disabled music fans.
We believed (and still do) that comprehensive and targeted action on these areas will result in greater inclusion at live music events, and enable event organisers to better serve their disabled customers.
Deaf and disabled music fans need:
- A simple and universal system for evidencing access requirements
- Accurate and disability-aware information and customer service
- Choice and flexibility when booking tickets
- To be able to trust that access requirements will be met
- Equal access to everything
Ticketing Without Barriers
To bring this vision to life, we convened a far-reaching coalition of umbrella organisations, ticketing companies, venues and event companies, who pledged to work together to remove barriers to ticketing: the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition. This group allowed members to exchange ideas, issues and solutions, and work towards a single, unified vision for what best practice means when it comes to facilitating access booking for Deaf and disabled people.
The work of this group was paused with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Our third State of Access Report, supported by Arts Council England and Irwin Mitchell, revisited many topics highlighted in the previous two reports, with central themes being the importance of access information provision, the benefits of viewing access as an extension of customer service, and the need for facilities to be fit for purpose.
The findings and conclusions of the 2016 edition are based on 280 mystery shopping reports by Deaf and disabled people, bespoke research including a survey of 386 venue and festival websites, and a set of case-studies drawn from the hundreds of venues and festivals Attitude is Everything works with.
- 1/3 of venue and festival websites provide no access information
For disabled fans, the first barrier to accessing live music typically happens before they’ve even purchased a ticket. Detailed access information on venue and festival websites is essential for 20% of the UK population to be able to determine whether they can attend an event. Disabled audiences are unlikely to attend live music events unless they know their diverse range of access requirements can be met.
- 2/3 of independent venues provide no access information
The lack of access information was particularly pronounced at independent venues, where most people start their relationships with live music as both artists and audience members. A lack of information often implies poor physical access, even if that is not the case.
- Less than 1/5 of websites surveyed provide ‘good’ access information
Comprehensive information is crucial – knowing whether there are two steps, or two flights of stairs, or whether you can bring a Companion, or find an area to sit down, could be the difference between a fan buying tickets or not.
Our 2014 State of Access Report, based on 228 mystery shopping reports (159 from venues and 69 from festivals), 40 questionnaires, and 13 interviews collated between April 2011 and March 2013, revealed that 95% of Deaf and disabled people questioned had encountered barriers when seeking to buy tickets to live music. Its call to action focused on ticketing and access-related bookings, with the central aspiration being development of a system to provide universal proof of disability for access provision-booking purposes, and thus the implementation of equality of access when it comes to online ticket bookings.
A major outcome of that report was the the formation of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) Accessible Ticketing Working Party, a group of ticketing retailers, venue and festival management and Attitude is Everything that came together to discuss the development of online ticketing schemes that included Deaf and disabled customers needing to book access facilities.
- 95% had experienced disability-related issues when booking tickets.
- 88% felt discriminated against due to an inaccessible booking system.
- 83% had been put off buying tickets after finding it inaccessible.
- 47% considered taking legal action as a result.
- Only 38% of small venues surveyed provided Companion tickets, compared with 61% of large venues. 75% of small festivals provided Companion tickets, compared with 88% of large festivals.
- Mystery Shoppers reported that 66% of the venues they attended had a step-free entrance, but just 44% of the venues visited had all three key components of physical access: a step-free entrance, step-free routes to all areas of the venue, and at least one functional accessible toilet.
Our 2011 State of Access Report was the result of the first comprehensive piece research carried out into UK venue access. Based on two years of research spanning over 100 music venues UK-wide, the report was launched at a lunchtime reception at the House of Commons.
Covering small local pubs to large arenas, 100 disabled and Deaf mystery shoppers assessed the accessibility and facilities of the venues between March 2009 and March 2011.
- The research established that clarity of information is one of the main barriers for disabled and Deaf gig goers. Only 64% of access information provided to the mystery shoppers was found to correctly represent the facilities at the venues audited.
- Only 56% of venues audited were found to have step-free access throughout, meaning access to toilets or the bar was extremely difficult despite being able to enter the venue via step-free entrances.
- Only 56% of venues had a Companion ticket scheme in place.
- The report also highlighted the impact of good access, sharing how once Glastonbury Festival began to improve its access facilities, attendance from disabled customers increased from 195 in 2007 to 565 in 2010.