A DEAF woman is taking legal action against LHG Live after alleging the promoter failed to make “reasonable adjustments” for her disability.
Ahead of a 15,000-capacity concert by Little Mix at the South of England Event Centre in Sussex, Sally Reynolds asked LHG to provide a sign language interpreter for her and two friends, who are also deaf. The trio were attending the show on 1 September with their daughters.
Although the six tickets, costing £37.50 each, were bought from resale site Viagogo, which LHG doesn’t recognise, the company offered Reynolds carer tickets and invited her to bring her own interpreter.
She refused and according the BBC, insisted that that LHG should provide the interpreter, citing the Equality Act 2010, which states that any organisation supplying a public service has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a disabled person receives as similar as possible an experience to a person with a disability.
In response LHG contacted the British Deaf Association and music accessibility charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) in order to meet Reynolds needs. As neither organisation was able to supply an interpreter, the promoter approached Performance Interpreting, recommended by Reynolds, to book one.
However, LHG was advised that the interpreter needed four to six weeks to learn the lyrics for an artiste and so would not be able to interpret for the two supporting acts, which had only been confirmed 10 days prior.
This, says Reynolds, had a detrimental impact on her overall enjoyment of the concert. “It was very much a disparity of experience compared with everyone else,” she told the BBC. “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 tells LIVE UK it did everything possible to meet Reynolds needs, including upgrading her party to the golden circle, giving them access to a private toilet, ensuring they were positioned directly in front of the stage and interpreter and making public announcements on giant screens. Overall its efforts cost LHG more than £1,000.
“LHG Live is one of the largest outdoor concert promoters in the UK and takes accessibility to all its events seriously,” says the company in a statement.
Director of Performance Interpreting Maria Pascall tells LIVE UK that interpreters usually spend between 30-50 hours learning the lyrics for a major act and cost around £500, plus a management fee.
“The deaf audience had thought live music was a closed door, but are now coming forward, and over the last two-and-a-half years there has been massive growth,” she says. “People want equal access.”
The company provides a regular service at venues such as London’s The O2 (cap. 21,000), Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena (10,000) and Brighton Centre (5,127), as well as working with Festival Republic at Reading (90,000) and Leeds (80,000), Latitude (35,000) and Download (110,000).
AIE says it is looking at the issues involved in the case, and providing greater clarity to what is expected by the term “reasonable adjustment”. It is currently unclear how, for example, a grassroots venue faced with a similar situation could cope with the expense.
“We will be consulting deaf audiences, artistes and the industry to establish best practice in this area,” says an AIE spokesman.
LHG is due to meet with the British Deaf Association and AIE later this month.