How to make concerts inclusive and accessible
I regularly go to concerts so I thought that I would make an accessibility guide based on my experiences and additional research. Read on to find out how to make concerts inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
It is helpful to have a drop off zone and accessible parking close to the entrance.
The basics features of the building
An entrance easy for electric wheelchairs to get in and accessible toilets are a must to make concerts accessible for people with disabilities. This isn't a problem for most arenas.
For smaller venues this could be more of a problem. I went to a P.O.D. Concert and it was upstairs with no lift. I had to sit on a chair at the back, which was not ideal.
If you're holding a concert at a bar and it only has a few steps you may want to consider a portable ramp for wheelchairs.
General admission and seating
I like it in the mosh pit as it makes me feel like everybody else. Unfortunately some venues don't let you into mosh pits because of their fears about safety and liability. I feel that this is discrimination.
I think that they should let us do what abled bodied people do. I once was in the mosh pit at Green Day. I had an awesome time.
The singers/bands also interact with the crowd sometimes and if we are not allowed into the mosh pit we are denied a chance to interact with them.
On one occasion the singer Anastacia went into the crowd and ended up in the accessible area; she sang to me. However this experience has happened once in a lifetime. I have been to about 50 concerts and singers mainly stay on stage so I would much rather go up the front.
I think that most of the time the crowd is very happy to see me in the mosh pit and regularly move out of the way so I can go up the front.
Alternatively dancing between the barriers or backstage might be acceptable to the person with a disability. I have done both when offered.
If a concert is seated then it could be better to have wheelchairs at the front because if the crowd stands it may obstruct their view.
The VIP area should be accessible too. If it isn't and you reject a person with a disability that purchased VIP tickets to a sold out concert they end up going home.
Meet and greets
Meet and greets should be held in accessible areas too. If people with disabilities purchase meet-and-greet tickets and they can't access the area this would be disappointing. We should be able to meet acts if we can afford to do so.
Strobe lights are a terrible choice because they negatively affect people with epilepsy. From my understanding moving lights are a better option.
Accessible viewing areas
I would choose to be in the mosh pit however sometimes it is not possible. People should be able to get in and out of the accessible areas whenever they want so there needs to be enough space to do so.
The lifts should have Braille. Ideally when the lift has arrived on a floor it should tell the person what floor they're on with a speaker. This makes the lift accessible to people with vision impairments.
I need an assistant for concerts if I want to drink but most of the time I have to pay for them too. Most people with disabilities could not afford to do this so it's helpful if assistants can come at no charge.
Assistance by venue staff
Most of the time when I’m at concerts the venue staff leads me to my seat. This is always helpful.
It's helpful to have your staff by doors near the accessible areas and also the door leading to main dance area. This allows people to get in out of these areas easily. I think that this is particularly important near the end of the show as you have people like me that leave during the last song to avoid the crowd.
I recall going to a concert and the venue giving me a personal assistant. He was a volunteer.
I did not request this and did not need this but I thought that I may as well take it. When not in General Admission I like to leave early to avoid the crowd but the volunteer didn't want to escort me until the end. Of course this was fine but it was a downside.
Of course I am not suggesting that you need to distribute personal assistants and I would even advise against doing this. It is simply not realistic.
Another option could be to have the option to hire a personal assistant when booking tickets.
Food and drink
It might be a good idea to for the venue staff to see if people want drinks occasionally especially if the person doesn't have an assistant. If you don't have the resources to do this that’s perfectly fine. Some people with disabilities would prefer to do it themselves so make sure that the service area is accessible.
Concerts are still inaccessible for some people
People that cannot see may appreciate audio descriptions. Usually this is done by providing a track with an ear piece. I contacted the Blind Foundation New Zealand and they confirmed that audio descriptions for concerts would be helpful.
People that cannot hear are known to enjoy concerts too. In the UK there's an event called Deaf Rave and this is a music festival that's designed for people hard of hearing. Devices that vibrate to the music can make the event inclusive for people that don't have the ability to hear.
You may want to consider sign language interpreters or software to help display what people are saying/singing on a mobile phone's web browser. You can find out more about software to display what people are saying on a mobile phone's web browser here.
People can be inconvenienced by constantly explaining their accessibility requirements over the phone. This is a reason why it’d be helpful for websites that handle ticket booking to integrate accessibility requirements. I know that some ticket companies require people to call to book accessible tickets. I cannot talk and this makes me less independent.
Both phone and online booking need to be the norm for accessible tickets as some people are not comfortable with booking online either.
Accessible tickets should be offered as an option in any pre-sale promotions.
I think that the more locations the artist performs in the more accessible they are. Many people with disabilities don't have the money to travel to different cities. My parents have helped out a lot over the years.
I do understand that it may be impossible or inconvenient to increase the number of areas artists are performing at.
I have to hire a van when going to concerts in rural areas at the other end of the country which can be more expensive than getting taxis in a major city. The accommodation in rural areas can be limited and less likely to be accessible. I think that some artists like performing in rural areas and they free are free to do what they please but rural areas are not as accessible.
Thanks for reading
I hope that this guide is helpful and can be utilized by venues, artists and ticket booking companies to make concerts inclusive and accessible for all.