For years, deaf and disabled music fans have faced huge barriers when it comes to booking concert tickets.
“Buying tickets online is not just about convenience. For disabled people whose impairments mean they can’t use a phone, this will be game-changing.”
Ticketmaster’s new system is a huge step forward for the disabled community – the end of a needless digital divide. The traditional accessible ticket line route (specialist phone numbers open at set hours), is not only laughably cumbersome and time-consuming in the digital age, but also the opposite of accessible for disabled people, especially those who may have difficulty using the phone.
Now, finally, a major player has begun to take the plunge (albeit tentatively), helping explore technology’s full potential as an accessibility tool. Of course this is not before time and could’ve happened sooner. Research by the UK charity Attitude is Everything has been vital in highlighting the issue and forcing companies to take their earplugs out. Enabling disabled customers makes financial sense: The purchasing power of the community, known as the purple pound, was estimated to be worth around £249bn to the economy in 2017.
But more work needs to be done. Launching at SEC Hydro, Glasgow and Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff shows willing but far from a full UK-wide commitment (Birmingham, London?), although Ticketmaster promise further roll-outs.
Ultimately, this is a first-step, a warm-up to a headline act of ticketing equality that I, as a wheelchair user, have longed for my whole life. The whole point of music, and art as a whole, is that it is accessible to all – and most powerful live.
Ticketing shouldn’t be a barrier, but a route in. I’ll meet you at the front.
More than three million disabled people attend a concert every year and disabled music fans make up 11% of the live music audience, according to government statistics.
But the UK charity Attitude is Everything, recently found that 82% of deaf and disabled music lovers had faced difficulties
In response, it launched the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition, and worked in conjunction with Ticketmaster to design its new system.
“I’m delighted that Ticketmaster’s accessible ticket sales will go online,” said the charity’s CEO, Suzanne Bull in a statement.
“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets”.
A similar scheme also exists for the Birmingham NEC, Birmingham Arena and Resorts World Arena, via The Ticket Factory website.
Ticketmaster stressed that their dedicated phone lines won’t be closing – with the new system simply an option for fans who prefer to go online.