Friday, September 10, 2010

Wheelchair User Discrimination At U2/Jay-Z Concert

A Jay-Z fan from New Zealand was forced to pay four times more than the general admission rate. Why? Because he was in a wheelchair.

Red Nicholson was excited to attend a concert in Auckland to see U2 and opening act Jay-Z, particularly since the least expensive tickets were being sold for $40. But when he contacted the ticket seller he was told "the minimum cost of a ticket, for a disabled person using a wheelchair, was $179 plus booking fee". Since he must take a support person with him, that meant he would have to pay $380 to attend rather than under $100.

Red blogged about this and asked a very valid question:

Why should regular able-bodied folk be able to choose to buy cheap tickets, but people with disabilities are asked to pay through the nose?


The local media agreed and reported on this story. The concert organizers backed down as this follow-up article reports:

After queries from The Dominion Post, concert organisers agreed to open up an allocated number of seats in the reserved section at a lower price for wheelchair users.


That is not good enough. I do not agree that "an allocated number" of seats should be reserved for wheelchair users. If this means, once a few wheelchair users have bought cheap seats, other wheelchair users must buy more expensive seats, this is still not fair. Wheelchair users should be treated like everyone else. The hall should be made wheelchair accessible and there should be sufficient space which can be converted to accessible seating should it be required. Wheelchair users should have full access to all levels of seating. Anything less is discriminatory in my opinion.