Disabled Concertgoers

How to Improve the Experience for Disabled Concertgoers

By Samantha Bold

People with disabilities want to enjoy concerts the way any abled-person would want to. They show up with friends and family and want to take in the whole experience of a show. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll be able to get tickets or proper assistance upon arriving. In short, venues need do more. Below are four suggestions to improve the experience for disabled concertgoers.

Improve Online Ticketing

One of the biggest hassles a disabled concertgoer has is getting tickets. You can read about the problems my brothers and I had with finding disabled seating here. Part of the issue is the lack of online resources. When entering a ticketing website looking for accessible seat tickets, there’s a good chance you’ll face two options. Either, call an 800 number or purchase the tickets at the box office in person. My experience with calling an 800 number is bad. I had to wait on hold for 30 minutes only to find out that the venue is not accessible. Going in person to purchase tickets seems like the exact opposite option to recommend for a disabled person. Online ticket companies need to be more accommodating.

Smaller Venues Need to Become Accessible for Disabled Concertgoers

In each city, there are many major venues that are not accessible. Not only are these venues saying that people with disabilities don’t deserve concert experiences but they are also losing out on money from potential ticket sales.

When these larger venues don’t accommodate it should be up to smaller venues to open their doors and be accessible. Besides it being the right thing to do, they will also reap the financial benefits. When my brother’s and I looked for concert tickets at a large reputable venue and couldn’t get them, we found a music show at a community center that hosts monthly musical events. The experience isn’t the same as a large production full of pyrotechnics and fun lights. But small venues find ways to make their shows special and enjoyable.

Train Venue Staff Better About Disabilities

Staff members at concert venues should never assume they know what disability looks like. Venues should not presume ramps and wheelchair accessible bathroom stalls cover disability requirements or accessibility needs. Some people have disabilities in the form of visual or hearing impairments. Others have invisible disabilities that cause chronic pain and fatigue, for example. Staff members must be trained to understand this and prepared to provide assistance.

Venues Should Be More Strict on Disability Regulations

Venues shouldn’t allow people to sit in an empty disability accessible seat because it’s closer. If the venue staff sees this type of behavior they should stop it as it happens. I have personally seen people take those empty seats and no one has stopped them. This same rule should go for parking and bathrooms reserved for people with disabilities. As disabled concertgoers see others take advantage of their privileges it begins to feel like their situation isn’t taken seriously.

Samantha Bold



Samantha Bold is a writer from New York City. She is an avid music and sports fan and is really sad the Rams are in Los Angeles.

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Josh Appel
  • Delilah Lanoix
    Posted at 21:52h, 15 April Reply

    Hi Samantha!
    Good article! We would live to post on our website at http://www.gobutterfli.com

  • aw
    Posted at 15:40h, 23 April Reply

    Thanks for this.
    My issue is chronic pain of various types including sometimes sensory issues. So I’m one of those people who does wear earplugs at concerts (when I remember, and regret when I don’t). I’ve been to shows of all types, some where I needed accessible seating and some where I didn’t, depending on the show and venue and my condition at the time.
    At one show it took an extended period of time to obtain the accessible seating I had already called ahead and requested, getting tossed around from person to person each who looked more confused at my request than the last. (I just needed two seats. THAT’S ALL.) At one point my bf had to climb a couple flights of stairs to get to one of the people I was supposed to talk to. What if I had been a wheelchair user, or hadn’t had a fellow showgoer with me?
    One of the popular venues in my city is SRO except for a balcony, which costs about triple-quadruple the SRO ticket price, but there are only about 8 balcony seats available. Yeah, that’s a single digit number. I’ve been fortunate enough in the past to be able to attend at this venue several times when I’ve been “borderline” enough to be able to stand in the back and lean against a post, but then of course you get the 7-foot-tall people (not that they are doing anything wrong by being tall, of course) who stand right in front of you, and you have nowhere to move because you *need* that post, dangit.
    Sports has generally been better, surprisingly – even the minor league. My minor league baseball team has ample space for people in wheelchairs AND their carers, friends and family, with great sightlines for all of them. My major league baseball team less so, although they also court disabled fans extensively and make a point to hire disabled people, which is wonderful. The hockey team’s new arena, while not as charming as the old barn, is much more accessible than the old barn ever was (that is: the old barn never was, by a mile). I hate football, so I can’t comment on that. 😉

    • Josh Appel, Kip Napier
      Posted at 15:59h, 01 May Reply

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences with us! We’re always happy to accommodate guest bloggers and if you’d like to share your thoughts and/or your experiences with accessibility at venues in a blog post, we’d love to publish it. Again, thanks for reading! Hope to see you back!

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