Flash Says…

Wheelchair ticketing petition? It’s badly timed and focuses on the wrong issues

Posted on: 2012-08-15

There is a petition doing the rounds, complaining that a wheelchair user cannot be seated with their family at the Paralympics because at the time they tried to book, the only available seating was a wheelchair bay next to a single seat. Several people have sent me the petition, assuming that as a disabled person myself, I would agree with and sign it. In fact, I think it is spurious to produce this complaint just two weeks before the event, and that if you want to campaign, there is a better time and reason to do so…

Why this campaign is badly timed

Tickets for the Paralympics went on sale a year ago. At the time I, as a wheelchair user, was told that every effort is made to keep wheelchair users with their friends. But with only two weeks to go, trying to buy tickets and finding there isn’t a space where your whole family can be accommodated around you is hardly a surprise. The time to complain – if it was relevant – was a year ago.

The tickets have been sold. The Paralympics will be set up for the seating that has already been purchased. They won’t change their set up at a fortnight’s notice!

A wider campaign?

I attended the Olympics and at both the venues I found that wheelchair bays were next to a seat for your PA (assistant), and so it repeated: bay, seat, bay, seat. This is ideal for couples or single wheelchair users who may or may not have a PA, and a free PA ticket was included with every ticket for a wheelchair user.

This is also the way it works at Wembley normally, at many gigs and festivals. If complaining that you can only take one person with you and not your whole family, why not make it a wider campaign, to tackle the policy in general?

Provision for disabled people is always limited (as are regular tickets – there’s no infinite supply) and so space is at a premium. Sports grounds and venues have a set number of spaces for wheelchair users. Festivals will build viewing platforms to accommodate the tickets they have sold to disabled people. Although I think most events have the balance of accessible seating right, because wheelchair spaces are usually last to sell out when the normal tickets are all gone, I have still experienced a crush on a viewing platform, where there wasn’t even space for my PA, only for wheelchair users themselves. So actually, I would rather that you could not bring your family onto the viewing platform or into the wheelchair spaces. Your children could be denying a ticket to a needy wheelchair user who could have used it instead.

So what’s the solution?

When I attended the Oval last year, I was allocated a wheelchair bay and a seat next to it for my PA. My friends were accommodated in the row immediately behind us, so that they didn’t take up any wheelchair spaces, but we could still chat together when we wanted. Many venues will sell tickets in the row immediately in front or behind for the rest of your friends or family, so you can still be near each other and pass around the sandwiches. This is ideal – everyone together, with no abuse of a wheelchair space by an able bodied friend. If the venue you’re visiting won’t offer this option, that is the time to complain – and campaign.

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15 Responses to "Wheelchair ticketing petition? It’s badly timed and focuses on the wrong issues"

At least one of the cases is of someone who did buy her tickets a year ago.

Thanks, I didn’t know that. I have only heard of two cases and heard that they both rang recently. I must do better research! So thanks for pointing it out.

Certainly when I went to buy (a couple of months back) they said they would endeavour to put groups together. However, I only bought for me (plus PA) in the end. Did you buy any tickets yourself and have problems getting seated with friends?

Also, what do you think of my suggestion about campaigning for more venues to seat friends and family right behind or in front of you?

Really interesting perspective! Channel 4 skewed mine a bit into ‘outrage’. My situ is different, would love to hear your thoughts: http://www.blottr.com/breaking-news/second-wheelchair-user-told-she-cannot-sit-her-children-olympics

Thanks! I hadn’t realised you bought a year ago, and yes it is a different situation. It’s not what I was led to believe would happen – I understand that if you try to book for a group now, they might have sold out of suitable seating. But to tell you now that you have to sit separately from your children is ridiculous.

At the Oval I was in a different section from my friends, but I was in the back row of my section and they were in the front of theirs; we were next to each other. Are you sure your children wouldn’t actually be anywhere near you? If so, and you booked expecting to be together, then yes that IS a cock-up and not at all satisfactory, of course! Particularly as you booked so long ago. I’m sorry to hear it 😦

Are you on twitter? I’ve tweeted to tell people about your situation, being different. I’m @techiebabe if youre on there. Hope a solution can be found, for you at the Paralympics, but also in general as I suggested, too.

Her Twitter ID is her name with an underscore in the middle.

PS I’m the one that bought my tickets a year ago. And I think your solution is a great one! 🙂

Thanks! No reason why we can’t (all) campaign for a better more workable solution in general, for all venues!

I couldn’t agree more. In fact I tried to say as much on twitter yesterday but to no avail.

Thanks! People do seem to go off on one on twitter, don’t they! Never mind. Thanks for your comment.

Reblogged this on Ferreting Around and commented:
I have to say, whilst I feel for the people highlighted in C4’s piece – I totally agree with what Flash has to say.

I’ve bern contacted by @mamalewis1 on twitter, she will be sitting with her disabled daughter and the rest of her family at the Paralympics. She says all the furore would make a terrible story… if only it were true!

Here’s her story: http://www.baby.co.uk/mum_stories/20120815-this-paralympic-story-would-be-terrible-if-it-was-true/

ive had the issue where getting tickets has been impossible we couldnt buy them over a yr ago just didnt have the funds at that time so when i did try to get tickets i could never get through on the phone line constantly kicked off the phone being told the lines were to busy this call will now be disconnected and iam sorry but why should the only way we can buy tickets is through a phone line we should be able to buy them online as well

I agree, it would have been better if we could have bought tickets online. I bought a £10 day pass online in the initial sale but I then spent an hour dialing to get athletics tickets in the first resale. I agree it is a complete pain to get through on the phonelines particularly as the accessible line was not manned by very many people, I had the impression it was just one or two when I rang. I suppose this at least meant that there were still plenty of tickets available by the time I got through, but wow, what an expensive phonecall!

However, this does not negate the point that if you try to buy tickets for ANY event near to the time when it happens, you may find that the tickets you want are no longer available. This applies to able-bodied people too for their normal seats – if an event is nearly sold out and you want more than one or two tickets together, you are unlikely to be successful. That’s the risk you take in trying to book so close to the event. Sorry if that’s not a popular view!

i do get where ur coming from but then also people buying the tickets should have been given this info not find it out for themselfs when they got their tickets i have one friend who got thier tickets in the 1st ballot an were split up this wouldnt be a huge issue if it were adults but when the parents are one side of the stadium an the children the other an those kids are still very young its worrying x

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