A disabled woman made a thousand calls to order tickets to see Ed Sheeran

Bianca, Kat Watkins' personal assistant

Kat Watkins is an individual who enjoys living life to the fullest.

In the spring, she will travel to South Africa. After that, she will be in France for the Rugby World Cup, where she has purchased tickets in the hopes of seeing Wales win.

Kat also makes trips from her Swansea home to theaters, museums, spas, and concerts throughout the United Kingdom.

Kat, however, cannot purchase tickets online like most people because she uses a wheelchair; instead, it took 1,000 phone calls for her to watch Ed Sheeran.

Like other people with disabilities, Kat must typically call ticket offices because she needs a personal assistant to accompany her.

This entails having to navigate phone systems and being limited to office hours only, which is more difficult if you work full-time.

Kat Watkins (right) with her PA Bianca
Obtaining tickets for accessible spaces can be a laborious process, according to Kat.

Despite this, Kat continues to enjoy attending concerts; she has seen Take That, Westlife, and JLS six times total.

Even though she applauds Cardiff's Principality Stadium for providing accessible tickets for Ed Sheeran's mega-concerts without requiring proof of a disability, getting hold of them was a challenge.

It took 1,000 attempts for her to get a "beep, beep, beep" before hanging up.

The wait was another 40 minutes when I finally made it there. Fortunately, there were still available tickets.

Even though Kat was able to obtain tickets for Stereophonics and Tom Jones more quickly, she was once more disappointed that she could not do so online.

The Principality Stadium stated that it currently handles ticket sales over the phone in order to better understand the needs of its customers, but added that it was considering moving the purchase of accessibility tickets online.

Wheelchair spaces at a venue
Even though venues frequently have excellent wheelchair accessibility features, purchasing tickets can be difficult.

To show her eligibility, Kat had to send her personal independence payment award when she visited the O2 arena in London to see Mark Owen perform with Take That.

Although it is a standard procedure, people must repeat it for various occasions.

With the creation of the Hynt scheme, which provides people with disabilities with a card proving their eligibility for carer tickets, Wales has made some progress in its efforts to simplify the process.

When they initially apply, they only need to provide proof once.

Much of the red tape associated with obtaining tickets, according to Kat, has been eliminated.

Even so, many of the venues do not automatically allow online reservations for those who have the card.

One exception is Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre, where after registering the card, all a person needs to do is sign in online to be offered wheelchair or regular seats with a complimentary companion ticket.

The contrast is apparent at Cardiff and Swansea, Wales' two top football clubs.

Although Cardiff City's Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) has been in discussions with the team for years about putting in place an online system, patrons who require a carer must still call or go to the ticket office.

Swansea City, on the other hand, decided to create its own custom ticketing system in 2016. Users must register their information and eligibility only once in order to access online tickets.

They can log into their account to purchase tickets after providing documentation proving their accessibility needs, according to a club spokesman.

Swansea was the first Premier League team to offer and spread the service in 2016.

Kieran Jones, Disability Supporters Association
They have been requesting online booking functionality for years, according to Kieran Jones of Cardiff City's Disability Supporters Association.

Despite the fact that individuals who only require disabled spaces for themselves can make reservations online, IT specialist Kieran Jones from Cardiff City DSA finds it frustrating that the club has not yet been able to establish a robust online booking system.

The ticket office switched to a new system, and he added that they were still using it.

It's the same system that Wales, the FAW [which uses Cardiff City Stadium for matches], have so eventually it will allow people to book with a carer, but at the moment they haven't gotten that far.

Swansea, a Premier League team in 2016, was in a different income bracket than Cardiff, according to a spokesman for Cardiff City, and had greater potential to invest in ticketing.

The past couple of seasons, he continued, have seen "significant steps towards improvement.".

Alexandra Osborne
Alexandra Osborne from Disability Wales frequently attends concerts but has missed out on tickets because she had to call to order them.

The ticketing situation at venues is "a big issue, and has been for a while," according to Alexandra Osborne of Disability Wales.

She said, "A lot of our members, who are disabled people from all over Wales, are saying they missed out on another performance or concert.

To avoid missing out on an opportunity because you called a number that was correct the last time but was incorrect this time, you should always spend a significant amount of time researching the information prior to the release of the tickets.

Ms. Osborne wants disabled customers to have access to phone and online booking options.

She thinks a single access card that could be used across the entire UK, similar to Hynt but good at all venues, would be beneficial.

She said, "It takes a lot of work to apply for them all and then maintain, to make sure your passes haven't expired.".

"I believe it would simply help with the awareness and people using them because it would be talked about a bit more if there was one pass so we could use it in any registered venue.


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