Provide personal assistant tickets
“There are people who can’t access gigs without support, and it’s now a pretty recognized adjustment to provide a ticket for an essential personal assistant. At a grassroots level, bands often use their guest list to accommodate this. Bigger venues and festivals have evidence schemes for providing PA tickets, but for grassroots venues, we think that, where possible, it’s best to do it on trust. It’s reasonable to ask why someone requires it, but it doesn’t need to be any more than that. It’s also important to let people know beforehand that they can get in touch about arranging a PA ticket. This can help people in wheelchairs or who have mobility issues, but also people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions. Having a personal assistant can be the difference between going and not going to a show, so it’s really essential.”

Provide access information
“Disabled people are put off from going to gigs if they can’t find the information in advance—it can cause major anxiety, and it forces the individual to contact the venue or promoter to ask questions. A way to cut that out is to anticipate some basic information people might need to know, and just have it online. Every venue can and should provide some basic access information on their website—it benefits everyone.”

Be open to and invite requests
“Having a contact number or email available for people to ask questions about the venue or show is something we advocate for all venues and festivals. It alleviates anxiety, and allows people to get answers to specific questions that may not be available on the venue’s website. For example, someone may require access to the venue before the doors open in order to get familiar with the layout. It’s about being flexible and open to the requests of disabled gig-goers.”

Provide accessible seating
“Smaller venues might ask, ‘How can you provide accessible seating when our venue is all-standing and rammed every night?’ It’s dependent on the space, and we are happy to talk to venues and help them overcome stumbling blocks. There will often be people who need to have a chair at gigs, whether that’s because of a mobility impairment or something else. The basic idea is for venues to try and consider the best location for an accessible seating area where people are able to sit down and have a good view of the stage. In some cases, that might involve a tweak of the general audience area; there might be a designated area laid out, or it could simply be being able to provide a chair if someone requests it. The main thing is ensuring that, if someone asks for help around accessible seating, they’re not met with a shrug. Anticipating it in advance is key. Venues often get around this by allowing disabled attendees to sit at the side of the stage. Similarly, it’s important to provide hearing protection if your accessible seating area is near the speakers, as is sometimes the case.”

Don’t use strobes
“Photosensitive epilepsy is quite a complicated issue, and there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach around flashing lights, but strobes in general are an issue. We know people who simply don’t go to gigs because they’re nervous about there being strobe lighting. We advocate not using strobes, and letting people know if it’s going to be a strobe-free performance. Likewise, if there’s going to be flashing lights at a show, we think it’s best practice to let people know in advance. If you’re putting on your own gig, the easiest way to make sure the lighting is accessible is to make it strobe-free, and have that as a policy. If there are strobes in the venue, make sure everyone involved in the night knows that they’re not to be used.”

Utilize DIY captioning
“It’s a great thing to add to your show, and we have a template we can share with any band or promoter who wants to think about doing this—just get in touch! We can provide you with all the advice on how to do it. It’s not very widespread in music yet, but we think it’s a really interesting addition to any night. Our anecdotal evidence is that even people who don’t have hearing impairments find DIY captioning adds to their experience. You can be really creative with it, too, and use it as an opportunity to promote other shows, or perhaps artwork—it doesn’t have to be a dry thing. If you have a laptop and access to a screen, you can do it; and we’d love to support anyone who wants to add DIY captioning to their shows.”

Provide or signpost a working, accessible toilet
“Not every venue has an accessible toilet, so if you don’t, just signpost the nearest one. But if the venue does have an accessible toilet, it’s important to ensure it’s in working order. The one thing that’s worse than not being able to go to a gig because it doesn’t have an accessible toilet is going to the gig when you think there’s a toilet and the finding out you can’t use it.”

Provide a quiet room
“This is something not all venues can do, but it’s something we’ve noticed a lot of DIY venues implementing. If there’s a secondary room that can be used as a space people can retreat to, where perhaps there’s some water, a sofa and maybe something people can draw on or things to read, that would be great. Just a quiet space, removed from the crowd, where anyone can go, can benefit people who suffer from sensory overload or who struggle being in crowds for whatever reason, as well as those with mental health conditions. If you can do it, it’s a really lovely addition to any event.”

Encourage the reporting of harassment
“There’s a wider debate in the industry at the moment about making gigs safe spaces. There are great organizations like Safe Gigs For Women doing work around that—and we think that deaf and disabled people are a part of that conversation. A lot of disabled people feel worried about going to gigs because they fear they’ll be bullied by members of the public, and we just want people who put nights on to have a strong message whereby that kind of behavior won’t be tolerated. Promoters, venues and bands can play a big role in standing up against discrimination, and making gigs safe spaces where disabled people can’t be harassed is something that needs to be implemented by the industry. It’s important for venues to encourage the reporting of any inappropriate behavior.”

Provide an accessible bar
“This is about considering the whole experience of being at a show, and the bar is a big part of that. It’s about trying to make sure the bar is set up to accommodate wheelchair users and the like and provide an accessible service. And that doesn’t mean physically changing the counter and getting the hammers out. It’s as simple as being aware that those with disabilities may want to use the bar and being adaptable to that. It makes for a better experience for everyone if people are aware of the needs of disabled gig attendees, and those with disabilities feeling comfortable they won’t be ignored when they go to the bar is part of that.”

Provide set times ahead of the show
“This is a really important point. Providing set times is beneficial for everyone, but particularly those with access issues. It’s great for people to know that, for example, they can go outside for half an hour at a certain time and know they’re not going to miss anything.”

Attitude Is Everything’s DIY Access Guide is available to view and download here. If you want to find out more information about Attitude Is Everything and the DIY Access Guide, or have any questions about putting on accessible gigs, you can check out their website or contact them at [email protected].