Although I review individual venues, including the booking process, I thought it would be useful to keep a list of venues (London-based for now, as that’s where I go to the majority of events) which have easy booking for disabled customers. By that, I mean being able to book online without the extra hassle of having to call or email to ask for tickets, like every other person gets to do. Some of these venues only allow online bookings if the customer is a member of their access scheme (which are always free, and remove the need to constantly provide proof of disability) and I have pointed out where these are applicable. I am focussing on the provision for wheelchair users specifically, as this is my own experience. Do please let me know if I’ve missed any venues out!
The Barbican operates a good access scheme, and has obviously put a lot of thought into making a visit to their City Of London home a less stressful experience for disabled people. While anyone can buy wheelchair space tickets online, access scheme members will automatically have the cost of a companion seat discounted when added to their basket. Blue Badge holders can also reserve a parking space for the time of their visit up to three months in advance.
The Bridge Theatre
Sign up to access list to book online (more info to come)
Actually a complex of three theatres – the main Olivier, and smaller Lyttleton and Dorfman theatres – the National Theatre has an access scheme that doesn’t require much personal information to join, and is more interested in the applicant’s access needs. After joining, logging in to the website allows disabled people to book both wheelchair spaces and companion seats online with no follow up needed. However in my personal experience, despite being signed up to the access list, I can only book the wheelchair spaces online for the main Olivier theatre. Booking for the other two theatres requires phoning their dedicated access line on 0207 452 3961 (11am-6pm Mon-Sat).
Camden’s impressive 1,700 capacity venue is equally impressive in its provision for disabled patrons. There’s no coincidence that of the ten shows I currently have tickets for, 70% are playing here. The Roundhouse does not have an access list, instead asking ticket buyers to confirm that a member of their party has access requirements before purchasing and has a text box for additional information if applicable. This is followed up with a polite email confirming that a wheelchair space (which comes with a free companion ticket in all cases) has been purchased. In a nutshell, the venue is trusting people not to take advantage of something that is not meant for them. And it seems to be working.
Located on Dean Street in the heart of London’s historic Soho, the building is commendably accessible for its cosy space. To purchase access tickets for events Downstairs or for the Theatre without having to call the box office you must have an account on the website. After purchase, the box office will get in touch to ask if you require a seat removed for a wheelchair or if you will be transferring into the seat. They also ask you to please email with your booking reference for a free companion ticket if required. Upstairs is a smaller venue without reserved seating, and while you can buy Access tickets online, this should be followed up with an email specifying if you’ll be needing a space for a wheelchair, and for a companion ticket if needed.
This brutalist complex is one of the most accessible venues in London, and a frequent host of disabled performers too. Buying wheelchair space tickets for events at the Southbank Centre is done after simple application to their access scheme, where preferences/needs can be toggled as seen below. Wheelchair spaces then appear on the ticket seats map, and customers have a choice of either a single concession ticket, or a concession ticket and heavily discounted companion ticket combo. When viewing the basket, a notice appears reminding customers that the ticket they are buying can accommodate a wheelchair user only.