Accessibility all areas?

This paper responds to a range of theory and industry reporting, to provide an informed narrative which explores the current state of accessibility at UK festivals for people who are deaf or disabled and the potential implications of developments in ICT for enhancing design, marketing, operations and performances across all phases of festival delivery, in order to improve inclusivity and accessibility.

festival stage

Project details

Project lead Adrian Bossey

Accessibility all areas? UK live music industry perceptions of current practice and Information and Communication Technology improvements to accessibility for music festival attendees who are deaf or disabled.

Passionate about exploring digital futures for music festivals, Adrian Bossey's primary research for this paper focused on supply-side considerations with a sample group of 10 UK live music industry professionals. The scope of the research was limited geographically to England and by artform to open-air music festivals, venues which host some music festival provision and a Sector Support Organisation.

The paper addresses the following question: What do representatives of the UK live music industry perceive as barriers to accessibility and exemplars of current best practice for music festival attendees who are deaf or disabled?

The paper found that ICT can facilitate enhanced dialogue with existing and potential audience members who are deaf or disabled to both, reduce existing social exclusion and improve the visitor experience for all attendees. All respondents agreed that physical enhancements are important and some mentioned communications and customer care. Respondents reported increasingly ambitious usages of ICT at music festivals, which may support suggestions of a virtual experience trend (Robertson et al., 2015). Online ticketing systems have potential to grant equal functionality to people who are Deaf or disabled, as recommended by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (2015).

Respondents broadly welcomed the potential for positive impacts of ICT on increasingly accessible live experiences at music festivals which retained a sense of authenticity and "liveness". Challenges around "as live" ICT-derived experiences were identified including risks of creating second-class experiences for deaf and disabled attendees.

Project team

Adrian Bossey staff profile
Adrian Bossey staff profile

Adrian Bossey - Project lead

Adrian Bossey is Head of Subject in the School of Entrepreneurship at Falmouth University, as well as a former artist manager. Adrian's research interests include the potential digital futures for live performance in the staging and consumption of music festivals. Find out more about Adrian's professional and academic experience, research interests, projects and outputs by visiting his staff profile below.

Staff profile

Outcomes & outputs

This project culminated in a paper exploring the current state of accessibility at UK festivals for people who are deaf or disabled. The paper was published in the International Journal of Event and Festival Management in February 2020.

The paper found that adopting the best practices described across the festival sector may improve inclusivity for disabled people at music festivals and other events. The "snapshot" of digital aspects of accessibility at UK festivals within this research is of particular value due to lack of other research in this area, and it's narrative from varied industry professionals.

The paper makes recommendations to promoters, academics and public funders, to attempt to advance inclusion (or at least to mitigate current exclusion) and identify directions for future research into accessible digital experiences at music festivals for people who are deaf or disabled.

Available in Falmouth University's Research Repository (FURR):

The research also was the catalyst for the creation of a new online course - Attitude is Everything Disability Equality for the Live Event Industry Training - offered by Falmouth University.

Impact & recognition

Post publication, elements of this research were presented to an audience of professional practitioners from the international festival industry at the A Greener Future - Green Events Innovation conference on 3rd March 2020 in London.

Project news

Attitude is Everything Disability Equality for the Live Event Industry Training - Falmouth University
Attitude is Everything Live Event Training

Accessible event management short course launched

Falmouth University has teamed up with Attitude is Everything to deliver a new online short course – Disability Equality for the Live Events Industry.

Read news article