Access All Areas Disability Review Finds Finer Details Letting Concert and Festival Venues Down

Irwin Mitchell Calls For Continued Improvements To Facilities For Disabled People At Major Music Events


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Disabled mystery shoppers who attended festivals and concert venues across the UK this summer have produced a report into accessibility finding that while on the whole most venues are providing good access, small details are often letting the events down.

Although the majority of venues provided a positive experience for disabled people there were several common issues including:

  • Disabled tickets being more difficult to order than standard tickets
  • Paths only being constructed in designated disabled areas cutting off the rest of the site in bad weather
  • Food and merchandise stalls with high counters preventing those in wheelchairs from using them
  • Disability viewing platforms overcrowded and shared with VIP guests
  • And although toilet facilities were generally good, sometimes a key had to be sought from elsewhere and could be difficult to find.

Leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell, which works with disabled people to help them regain their independence and get the most from life, supported a client who was left tetraplegic in a car accident and a member of staff who is also disabled to attend several venues this year as part of their Access All Areas campaign.

The initiatives aim was to review disability access to festivals and other major events up and down the country, examining all aspects of the experience for music fans who require specialist support to attend such events.

John Davis, a Partner and specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: 

The disabled mystery shoppers attended seven events across the summer festival and concert season across the country. They found:

Website and Booking Tickets

The usability of event websites was largely adequate (60%) but they questioned whether there should be a national standard of information for disabled people as this was often sporadic or spread across several pages and difficult to find.

They also said online booking for disabled people was not great with 80% rated as only poor or adequate. Although standard tickets can be bought online, disabled customers often then have to register over the phone to reserve a place on the disabled access balcony and for a personal assistant. Some venues have to be telephoned in order to book for disabled tickets and some still have to be contacted direct in order to prove one’s disability to prevent fraudulent able bodied visitors buying disabled tickets especially for popular events. The team questioned whether booking should all be available online as 80% required addition contact to sort issues for disabilities.

Positively, 80% of venues offered free tickets for personal assistants.

Venue Accessibility

On the whole most venues were good (40%) or adequate (40%) with only 20% rated as poor for accessibility. One of the poor venues was a listed building with an old outdated lift and was unsuitable for wheelchair users.

80% of venues had smooth pathways for when the weather was impaired although at some festivals even though areas designated for the disabled usually had good access – the rest of the festival could quickly become a no-go area in bad weather which excluded them from accessing the whole event.

Access to toilet facilities was generally good but disabled toilets often required a key which could be difficult to locate at festivals (40% good or better) (20% poor due to limited number and key needed)

General Experience

Only 20% were rated as good in terms of viewing the stage with disabled viewing areas often shared with those who had VIP tickets. This caused problems with crowding and prevented disabled visitors from seeing the acts at times.

There were also some issues with access to food and merchandise stalls –some of which were high and difficult for wheelchair users to access. However generally access to food facilities was well rated with 40% good or better and the remaining 60% adequate.

And ALL venues had helpful staff on hand to assist people with disabilities – with good knowledge of the accessibility

Transport and Parking

80% had suitable parking for disabled visitors although directions were not always clear. Some websites didn’t have any information at all for transport provision for disabled visitors which causes anxiety as to whether the event would be suitable.

Read more about the Access All Areas campaign.