Attitude is Everything, the charity dedicated to improving deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, has released its 2016 report on the state of access in the events industry.
“Or aim is to highlight areas of good practice and progress.” said Attitude is Everything chief executive Suzanne Bull MBE. “At the same time the report is an opportunity to reflect on the barriers faced by deaf and disabled people.”
The launch of the report, which was attended by venues, organisers and other industry professionals, also featured a panel discussion on best practice accessibility.
The report covers onsite and online access information, as well as the challenges deaf and disabled people often face in the immediate environment around a live music venue.
While Attitude is Everything was eager to point out that significant progress has been made, it still acknowledged that there was a long way to go for the events industry.
A significant portion of the launch was spent discussing the availability of online access information, which is something venues can easily amend.
“A lack of decent online access information websites has become a constant source of frustration to millions of disabled fans,” said Bull. “Evidence suggests that many will not risk attending an event if they are unsure about access facilities. We should not be letting these online failures hold back the tide of progress, especially when they are so easy to fix.”
The report revealed that 1 in 3 live music events have no access information available on their website. It also highlighted the fact that 2 in 3 music fans couldn’t find the information they needed online and that 60 per cent were put off buying tickets as a result.
Making changes to a website is also a simple and easy way to encourage venues and organisers to take the time to consider the facilities they can offer to deaf and disabled customers.
Training event staff was also high on the agenda, with panelist and Attitude is Everything mystery shopper Del Garland arguing that friendly and knowledgable stewards can make a huge difference.
“Going to a venue for the first time can be difficult,” he said, “you want to know that you’re in a safe environment.”
Some of the easiest changes venues and festivals can make are the ones that make the biggest difference to attendees.
Panelist Callum Hogg of Just So Festival and All In Access described the simple system used at the festival so make life easier for families with autistic children.
Performers were asked to assign their show a category, such as:
- Make Some Noise (performances where children could make noise)
- Sit Back and Relax (non-participatory performances)
- Sensory Spectacle (a visual and noisy performance)
- Quiet Corner (a relaxed space away from the bustle of the festival)
These categories helped parents make informed choices about which performances would be best for their children in an easily understandable and accessible way.
The panel discussion concluded by asking the panelists what they hoped would be achieved over the next few years.
Their answers included more accessible green field sites, mobile changing units to become standard and generally improving the information available to deaf and disabled people online.
Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis, who wrote the foreword of the report, said: “It is a vital that all festival goers can easily access clear information about how to buy tickets, what facilities are available onsite and how they can arrange for the necessary support in order to be able to attend. We’re very pleased to be continuing our work with Attitude is Everything to ensure this.”
Attitude is Everything is now calling on members of the UK live music industry to take part in the Access Starts Online campaign. The campaign hopes to encourage venues to provide clear and comprehensive access information for customers with disabilities.