The process and experience of booking a theatre ticket can make the difference between a positive or a negative theatre experience for any patron, but particularly for someone who faces additional communication barriers and who wants to make use of a specific service.
Being able to book the right seat, with a good view of the caption unit, is fundamental in providing a positive captioned theatre experience.
“I need the theatre to know where the caption box is going to be at the time I make my booking.”
Audiences for CAP performances will want to buy tickets in a range of ways.
• In person: staff will need awareness training – one of the main problems faced by participants in the Access All Areas research was being passed from staff member to staff member because not all were aware of the captioned performances and the needs of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people.
• Mobile box office: many venues have found it effective to visit social groups that meet regularly, talk about the event and sell tickets directly to members.
• By phone: Most organisations that have been offering captioned performances for many years tell us that they no longer offer a minicom (textphone) number because it is rarely used. Instead, they advertise that they will happily accept Text Relay (formerly known as Typetalk) calls. Text Relay is easy to use and there’s further information in the WHERE NEXT section.
• Text/SMS: a small number of venues are now offering a texting service. They keep a cheap pay as you go mobile phone in the box office so that deaf, deafened and hard of hearing customers can text in ticket requests and the box office staff can text responses. The tickets are kept as an unpaid reservation until the night of the performance.
• Postal/fax booking: some deaf, deafened and hard of hearing customers find this facility convenient.
• Online booking can cause problems for caption users unless the specific seats with good views of the caption unit are clearly marked on the plan and so that they are not bought by people who don’t need them; they can be purchased online by the people who do. Birmingham REP has developed an access register and online booking system that gets round this problem.
• Ticket agents came in for a lot of criticism from participants in the Access All Areas (Jan 2008) research. All their staff need to be aware of your policies for booking seats at assisted performances, but as that’s difficult to manage, it would be preferable to set up a dedicated contact person or phone number to manage access bookings.