22 Jan Venue Accessibility – Accessible Venue Services
Although complicated, accessibility is far from an unsolvable challenge.
Disabled Spectator is committed to revolutionizing the way people with disabilities, their family and friends enjoy entertainment and sporting events at public venues. There are a number of ways we’re going to achieve this. However, our two primary focuses are on improving the accessible seat ticket purchasing process and gathering and providing venue accessibility information.
Venue accessibility is essential for people with disabilities attending live entertainment events. Without venue accessibility, people with disabilities are denied their right to enjoy music, sports, theater, etc., like their non-disabled counterparts.
Ensuring their venue is accessible is a challenge many venue management groups face. What makes accessibility seem complicated and challenging is the fact that there are so many different kinds of disabilities, thus each person with a disability has their own accessibility needs. Regardless, it’s possible to account for almost everyone’s accessibility needs, or at the very least, provide additional service during events to patrons with disabilities.
One way venues could tackle accessibility issues is by addressing each phase customers go through while attending, and looking at specific accessibility features that apply to that phase. We plan on doing something similar with a series of blog posts.
Today, we’re going to focus on accessible venue services.
Accessible Venue Services – What To Consider
Accessible venue services cover a broad range of features. It includes things like staff accessibility and disability knowledge, ASL translators, monitors with captions, play-by-play radios, sensory rooms, changing rooms, wheelchair rentals, and charging stations for medical devices.
Unfortunately, not all venues will have all of these accessible venues services available. Much of that will depend on the type of event the venue holds. For example, a concert hall is less likely to have a monitor with captions but they can easily bring in an ASL translator for the show – it’s been done. However, baseball stadiums, for example, should have monitors with captions located around the concourse. They should also have captions on their jumbotrons, and radio devices with play-by-play available for those with vision impairments.
It’s vital that venue staff are educated about disability and accessibility. One way to approach this is to designate a few staff members as accessibility and disability point-people. They should be evenly spread across the venue complex and ready to assist customers and staff alike. At the minimum, all staff should have basic training on disability and accessibility. They should be able to answer basic accessibility questions related to the restrooms, parking, seating, concessions stands, and services available. It makes a big difference when the staff is ready and able to assists disabled customers.
Venues should make charging stations available for medical devices. They should also offer wheelchair rental programs – ideally free of charge. All staff members should be knowledgeable about both features and must be able to assists customers who would like to take advantage of both. Charging stations should be located throughout the venue and ideally placed near accessible seating sections if applicable. Likewise, wheelchair rental stations should be located nearby a number of entrances, limiting the distance customers with disabilities have to travel to rent a wheelchair. Or a system should be put in place that allows wheelchairs to be brought to each entrance when requested.
Lastly, venues should consider implementing sensory rooms. Sensory rooms are designed for people with highly sensitive sensory systems. In the UK, sensory rooms have been implemented at soccer stadiums to help children with autism attend matches. These sensory rooms having giant glass windows looking over the pitch, similar to a luxury box. They are accessed via one entrance and are private. Strategically chosen objects and toys can be found in the room, as well. They are entirely designed to allow children with autism and their families attend matches without having to deal with loud noises, crowds, and a charged atmosphere.
As of writing this, there haven’t been any recorded examples of such sensory rooms at venues in the United States. However, there are clear benefits and a test run is at the very least appropriate.
As mentioned above, accessibility might be a challenge but it is far from unsolvable.