Let’s set the scene: your favourite band or artist announces they’re going on tour. You eagerly look at tour dates, finding one you’d like to attend.

The day of the ticket sale arrives, and you sit at your laptop in anticipation waiting to buy tickets. But you’re faced with an inaccessible website.

That’s often the reality for many disabled gig-goers, including myself.

As a blind person and a screen reader user, I have two choices in this situation. I miss out or get a sighted person to step in and help.

Accessible tickets give us the chance to attend concerts, theatre shows and other events. But we can often be left with very few options to book such tickets. We find ourselves in long phone queues. Or we struggle to find access information online.

Online booking is the future, but it needs to be accessible.

The trials and tribulations of navigating inaccessible ticketing websites

I recently had the experience of being able to book tickets online for an upcoming concert. I’ve been attending concerts since I was a child. But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to book online.

The thought of being able to do this filled me with excitement. ‘Change is finally happening!’ I thought as I logged onto a well-known ticketing website.

My excitement was soon met with disappointment. I discovered that a large amount of the booking process wasn’t accessible. I’d managed to easily select our ticket, but the problems started when I got to the payment section.

I was met with inaccessible drop-down menus and tick boxes. This makes it an impossible process to complete using a screen reader. I had no other option other than to get sighted help.

I rushed around the house, finding a sighted family member to help. This resulted in the website timing out, meaning that I had to go through the process all over again.

My sighted family member ticked the boxes in seconds. Whereas I’d have struggled for hours, probably having to eventually admit defeat.

I was left feeling frustrated at not being able to buy the tickets on my own due to a lack of accessibility. What should have been an exciting task left me feeling deflated.

Had my family member have not been available at that exact time, myself and my friend would have missed out. We’d have had the chance to make unforgettable memories snatched away from us. All because the organisation didn’t make their website accessible. That’s happened in the past, I’m keen for it not to happen again.

Disabled people shouldn’t have to rely on others, nor should we be forgotten. I don’t want to rely on sighted friends and family to pick up the pieces for me. That’s not practical or justifiable. And it’s not fair.

Sighted people can make online purchases independently in minutes. So as a blind person, why can’t I?

Accessibility is freedom and independence

If a website is accessible, you can guarantee that I’ll return again in the future. I know I’m not alone in this.

Of course, accessibility goes beyond the booking process. It also depends on the accessibility of the other parts of going to a concert. For example, going to my preferred venue takes away a lot of stress because I know they always get it right.

When the whole process is accessible, there’s a very high chance I’ll return in the future.

If I’m left feeling frustrated, I’m unlikely to return.

When businesses commit to accessibility, it shows that they care. It shows that they have disabled people in mind. It tells us “we want you here, too”.

Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought. Disabled people shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Non-disabled people can book tickets online for events in a matter of minutes. A concert, a theatre show, or any other event they want to go to. Disabled people should be able to do this too. For many of us, it’s not practical or even possible to sit in phone queues for hours. Or to do extensive research to find the information we need.

The estimated spending power of disabled people and their families is £274 billion a year. The online spending power of people with access needs is around £24.8 billion per year. This highlights that when not considering accessibility, businesses are missing out.

Accessibility and disability: facts and figures

Accessibility goes way beyond what you might think. It’s about freedom, choice and independence. It gives everyone equal access.

Businesses must make sure that disabled people can do simple things, like booking tickets online. In doing so, it shows they are taking an active approach to make sure that we can attend events like everyone else. They are opening their doors to disabled people. That’s how it should be.

Accessibility plays a factor at every stage. It starts with the booking process.

Purchasing tickets online isn’t for everyone. But disabled people should have a choice and choose the option that works for them.

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