Accessible Service in Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible information in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible service in sports venues. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to fans who need accessible features that a venue does not have yet.

Accessible Service in Sports Venues

Service Animals, Support Persons,  and Assistive Devices

Accessible sports venues must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, support persons, or service animals. Service animals are legally permitted in all areas open to the public, including areas where fans buy or consume food. Venues should work with fans who have service animals to book seats with room for the animals. Similarly, if arenas or stadiums choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets, they should advertise this pricing.

Training Staff

Venues must ensure that their staff are trained to interact with fans who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with fans, both in person and remotely. Additionally, staff should know where all the accessible features of their buildings or outdoor amenities are, including seats offering different kinds of accessibility. For instance, a fan with a visual impairment might want to book a front seat on the left side of the stadium. However, this fan may not be able to access the stadium’s online seating map. In this case, the fan may choose to book by phone so that a staff member can assist them.

Communication Support Awareness

Similarly, staff should know about any communication supports their locations offer. For example, staff should know whether certain games or concerts will be available with:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • Closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Live description

Moreover, staff should know which equipment is used for which service, where it is stored, and how to trouble-shoot when it malfunctions.

If venues cannot offer some or all of these services, staff can still offer fans an accessible experience. For instance, if a venue cannot offer live description for games, it can waive the ticket fee for companions of fans with visual disabilities. A companion can act as a support person and give a verbal play-by-play of the game.

Finally, accessible service in sports venues involves welcoming amateur and professional athletes with disabilities. Arenas and stadiums should seek out and host players and teams with disabilities. Our next set of articles will cover a few sports programs for athletes with disabilities. Programs range from recreational to competitive. Athletes with disabilities participate in summer and winter sports on the local, national, and international levels.



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Accessible Information in Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible features in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. This article will cover best practices for providing accessible information in sports venues.

Accessible Information in Sports Venues

Accessible Websites

Fans can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. More fans can find out about venues’ features, events, and services if venues post them on websites that are accessible. For instance, they should post:

  • What games or concerts they will be hosting
  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • Whether they offer any communication supports for games or concerts

Signage

Moreover, signage is also important. Whether signs are large ones outside the venue or small ones on seat numbers, they should:

  • Include detailed information for fans with hearing disabilities
  • Use clear language or pictures for fans with intellectual disabilities
  • Be at eye level for fans at wheelchair and standing heights
  • Have large print and good colour contrast for fans with visual impairments
  • Include Braille for fans who are blind

Communication Supports

Furthermore, sports venues can also offer communication supports to make games or concerts more accessible for fans with sensory disabilities. For instance, when hosting concerts, venues can offer:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices

Alternatively, for sports events, venues can offer live description of what is happening on the field, court, or ice.

Moreover, venue websites should explain how to access communication supports. For example:

  • Which performances will be interpreted or captioned
  • Which games will be described
  • Whether fans can request additional interpretation, captioning, or description
  • Where to pick up and return assistive listening devices, closed-captioning mirrors, or description headsets

Accessible information in sports venues ensures that all guests have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how sports venues can provide an accessible service experience.



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Accessible Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. This article will outline features that accessible sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums, should have. Accessible sports venues allow fans of all abilities to enjoy different kinds of sports together.

Accessible Sports Venues

Venues show their welcome for fans using assistive devices when they have accessible structural features. For instance, some accessible structural features that venues might have are:

  • Accessible Parking
  • Ramped or level entrances
  • Automatic doors and wide doorways
  • Lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Accessible change rooms for athletes or performers
  • Wide aisles and paths of travel
  • Visual fire alarms
  • Line areas and service counters that accommodate fans using mobility devices

Other features can also help venues become more accessible. For instance, good lighting will help fans who are Deaf communicate visually. Lighting is also important for fans who are visually impaired. Moreover, additional seating may benefit some fans with invisible physical disabilities who cannot stand in long lines.

Tickets and Other Purchases

Moreover, accessible sports venues should allow fans to purchase tickets in multiple ways, such as:

  • By phone or teletypewriter (TTY)
  • In person
  • Online

If a fan finds one way of buying tickets inaccessible, they should be able to buy in another way. In addition, staff should be available to assist fans purchasing from concessions or gift-shops.

Accessible Seating

Venues should also have accessible seating at multiple levels. An “accessible seat” can mean different things to different people. For instance, it can mean a seat:

  • Someone can reach without climbing stairs
  • Near the front so that someone can see or hear clearly
  • On one side of the arena or stadium, for someone with sight in one eye or hearing in one ear

Advertising

Fans with disabilities, as well as their loved ones, will want to watch games together. Therefore, accessible arenas and stadiums should make the public aware of all the accessibility features and services they offer. For instance, venues can make fans aware:

  • On signs
  • In person
  • Through their websites
  • Remotely, through messages on their automated phone-answering systems

Moreover, websites can explain how to access features, equipment, or services. For example:

  • Where accessible parking, entrances, and washrooms are
  • Which seats are wheelchair accessible
  • Whether fans need to book accessible seats or parking in advance, and how to do so

Contact Information

In addition, accessible sports venues should provide multiple contact methods for fans to get in touch with them, including:

  • Phone and teletypewriter (TTY) numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Accessible websites, including performance listings, ticket purchase, and contact forms

Our next article will cover accessible information in sports venues.



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