Blog: Making small venues accessible

To coincide with Venues Day on 20 October 2015 at the Ministry of Sound, run by the Music Venue Trust, this month’s blog focuses on the simple ways that small venues can become accessible.

Attitude is Everything will be represented by the Project Team at the event – Gideon Feldman – senior projects manager, Paul Hawkins – festival project manager, Jacob Adams – research and campaigns manager and Graham Griffiths – business and operations manager.

The team will be at our stall ready to give support and information targeted at small venues.

Gideon is also part of the panel ‘The Big Issues: Business Up – Be Inspired’, and he will be introducing ‘Better Accessibility for Bigger Audiences’.

After this, he will run a seminar and Q&A session called ‘Improve Access, Increase Audiences’ which basically pushes providing access information as the driving force behind creating more business with disabled audiences.

During the seminar, he’ll demonstrate how good, clear and consistent access information can make the difference between whether or not Deaf and disabled customers come to your venue.  We created the following ‘5’ especially for Venues Day:

Get in contact
Get to us
Get around us
Get a view
Get comfortable

Gideon will also incorporate the most innovative access tools that small venues have made in-house, such as video route guides.

Examples of small venues that we have worked closely with and that are on our Charter of Best Practice are Boileroom (Bronze Standard), Guilford and Band on the Wall (Gold Standard), Manchester.

If you aren’t able to get to Attitude is Everything’s seminar on Venues Day, there are more resources on our website.  Here are our 5 top tips in making your venue disability friendly:

1.         Describe your access

We recommend that you build a dedicated Access Information page into your website, and have it clearly linked to from your main page, as a button or in a pull down menu, rather than hidden away.  Information should be clear and concise but detailed, and also available to download.

Remember that wheelchair users make up only 8% of the UK’s disabled population, so even the most physically inaccessible venues still have an obligation to provide detailed access information. Knowing whether there is a small step, three steps or a flight of steps, or whether there is seating or a hearing loop available, could be the deciding factor for someone considering whether or not to buy tickets.

http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/resources/practical-guides/access-information/

2.         Add a Viewing Area

Viewing platforms improve the experience of watching live music for Deaf and disabled customers.  Venues that do not provide viewing areas may find it impossible to provide a view of the event with uncompromised sightlines.  As disabled customers pay the same price for their tickets as non-disabled customers, under the Equality Act, venues must provide everybody with an equal experience.

A viewing area need not necessarily be a raised platform. Smaller venues may have a reserved area at the front of the venue near the stage to give wheelchair users or seated disabled people a suitable view of the performance without the need for structural changes.

http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/resources/practical-guides/add-a-viewing-area/

3.         Offer Personal Assistant Tickets

Deaf and disabled people should be able to apply for an extra ticket, free of charge, if they would be unable to attend a gig or outdoor event without the active support of another person.

A disabled customer’s support need occasionally involves 1:1 support at all times, but is far more likely to be focussed on specific aspects of a visit to a venue, such as travel, interacting with staff, eating and drinking, being within a crowd, navigation and travel around a building, or using the toilet. By implementing a policy that allows Deaf and disabled people to be accompanied by a personal assistant free of charge, event organisers are ensuring that access requirements can be met without additional cost to their disabled customers.

An individual making use of a Personal Assistant at an event does so in order to facilitate an equal experience, and waiving the cost of their attendance is thus a suitable reasonable adjustment on behalf of venue and festival organisers when seeking to comply with the Equality Act 2010.

http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/resources/practical-guides/personal-assistant-tickets/

4.         Sign up to our Charter of Best Practice

The Charter is a bespoke service offered exclusively to the live music industry and the award is in 3 stages – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each stage details the criteria for improvements and advises on how to achieve them. We support music venues and festivals to create a realistic action plan in order to work through each level of the Charter and aim for the Gold award, by demonstrating an on-going commitment to improving accessibility. We encourage events producers to go beyond the legal obligations set out in the Equality Act and implement best practice, providing a fair and equal service to their Deaf and disabled customers.

http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/the-charter-of-best-practice/

5.         Train your staff

Disability Equality Training aims to increase understanding and to effect change in the areas of disability and access, encouraging inclusivity and equality. Our client-base includes music venues, festivals, promoters, music organisations, Local Authority event teams and Outdoor Arts producers.

Music is our specialism and passion. For the last 10 years we have focused exclusively on improving Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. Our qualified trainers are all Deaf and disabled people who are passionate about live music and attend gigs regularly. They understand both sides of the issue – the barriers faced by Deaf and disabled customers who attend, perform and work at live music events; and the challenges faced by venues and festivals when improving access.

http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/our-services/disability-equality-training/

Suzanne Bull MBE, chief executive officer – Attitude is Everything