The issues surrounding the accessibility of entertainment venues are highlighted by a BBC report about a woman who won a legal victory against a concert organiser, but still ended up feeling let down.
The case involved Sally Reynolds, who is deaf and booked tickets for herself and two deaf friends to see Little Mix, accompanied by their daughters who are all able to hear.
Sally asked the organisers, LHG Live, to provide a British Sign Language interpreter. She was initially offered carer tickets and told that she could bring her own interpreter, but she didn’t consider that met her needs or amounted to full access.
With just days to go before the concert, and no interpreter in place, Sally took an unprecedented legal step. She decided to instruct lawyers to apply for a court injunction to force LHG Live to provide a British Sign Language interpreter. Hours before the hearing was due to take place, LHG Live agreed.
The girls and their mums got to go to the concert and when Little Mix took to the stage their lyrics were interpreted for Sally and her friends by a specialist interpreter. However, the concert had started with two supporting acts and the interpreter had not been booked to cover them.
Sally said: “It was very much a disparity of experience compared with everyone else. We only got access to the last act. If you went to a film can you imagine only getting access to the last 20 minutes? We had paid for our tickets like everyone else.”
LHG Live told the BBC they agreed to provide the professional interpreter of Sally’s choice for the Little Mix show and included specific staging and lighting details, and a set list in advance. LHG Live also provided upgraded tickets, access to private accessible toilets and all public announcements on giant screens either side of the main stage.
Sally is now issuing legal proceedings for the failure to make reasonable adjustments, in the form of supplying an interpreter, for the whole concert. Her solicitor believes the action addresses a wider point.
He said: “People with sensory impairment actually want to attend musical and sporting events just as anybody else does. The fact that you have a hearing impairment or sight loss doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be at the event, so it is important that venues and promoters recognise that the legal duties to make reasonable adjustments extend to them. It is an important way of making society more inclusive.”
We can only add that such a scenario is not uncommon and there are frequently discussions between venues and promoters as to who should be paying for accessibility in all respects, for example free tickets for carers/assistants and interpreters.