This post is primarily going to focus on a concert I recently attended, and an over-night stay in The Gibson Hotel in Dublin. At first, it may seem that the afore mentioned activity is completely unrelated to assistive technology and other areas of disability supports, but this is not so.
I used an array of technology, assistive and main-stream, before and during my stay, and I sourced other disability supports I required. If you would like to learn about how the mentioned technology and disability supports benefited me, you are invited to read on.
1. Purchasing Concert Tickets
The main vender of concert tickets here in Ireland, as in a lot of other countries, is Ticket Master. While I haven’t had much difficulty navigating the Ticket Master website, there seems to be accessibility issues with the related iOS app.
Even though it is possible for someone using assistive technology to purchase tickets from Ticket Master on the website or iOS application, if you need accessible tickets like me, you will need to contact Ticket Master via the number on this page or the venue’s box office, and book tickets over the phone. This requirement is no big deal, but it may be an issue if the concert venue has a limited number of accessible tickets and the concert you are interested in attending is extremely popular.
I would suggest that you contact the venue directly ahead of tickets being released to get an idea of the quantity of accessible tickets which are expected to be available, and have the number you need to book accessible tickets on speed-dial on the morning of general release. Also, get confirmation regarding the venues procedures and policies regarding attendees with a disability who has accessible tickets, e.g. What time should I arrive?, What entrance should I use?, etc.
2. Public Transport Schedules
Using public transport is not my favourite activity, but sometimes it is unavoidable. In a competition between buses and trains, my winner will always be trains.
I think the train is the most accessible form of public transport, and it is more comfortable in comparison to a bus too. As I have a disability, I have a travel pass which I have used on numerous occasions.
In some situations bus drivers have insisted that I need a ticket in addition to the said pass which they have issued at no additional charge, and other times just showing the pass is more than sufficient. On this occasion, I got a ticket in my local train station at no charge, but once I showed the ticket inspector my pass during the journey they didn’t need to see the ticket at all.
Before getting tickets or getting on the train, I used a website called GetThere.ie to look up the public transport schedules specific to Ireland. GetThere.ie is a car pooling service, and while I haven’t availed of that feature, it is quite an accessible site for researching the times and dates of public transport.
Sometimes I have used the official website of the bus and train services in Ireland to double check the information on GetThere.ie, but this has only been on occasions like public holidays, industrial action, etc. If you want to double and triple check the times you have researched, I would not hesitate in contacting your local bus or train station directly to get confirmation.
3. Complete Hotel Reservation
My old approach to making a hotel reservation involved calling the hotel directly and completing the reservation over the phone. While this is 100% accessible, I no longer think it is the most efficient or cost effective approach.
My new approach comprises of using the iOS Booking.com app, and e-mailing the hotel after I have made the booking to confirm everything. I had heard some stories about Booking.com years ago which were not complimentary of the service, but I have used it several times in the last 12 months and I love it.
The iOS application might have some quirks regarding accessibility, but the overall outcome is worth the minor issues. Also, the website is there as well, although I have never used it personally.
The process involves submitting your check-in and out dates, browsing the available hotels available on Booking.com, and reserving the desired rooms by submitting your personal and credit card information. You can have booked a hotel in a matter of minutes, and you can add the booking details to your iOS calendar and wallet.
It is probably not necessary, but I have always emailed the hotel directly to confirm they have received my Booking.com reservation, and that they are able to arrange an accessible room for my stay as requested on the Booking.com app. The majority of hotels I have stayed in have accessible rooms which are generally larger and have grab-rails in the shower, and for someone with reduced mobility such a room is great.
The hotel I stayed in was The Gibson which is literally a stones throw from The 3 Arena, and I believe it is the best hotel in terms of attending a concert in the said venue as you don’t need to get a taxi. The hotel also sent me the in-room dining and breakfast menus upon request by e-mail which was great, as it gave me a chance to review them ahead of my stay.
4. Securing Personal Assistance
This was a newish task for me to complete, but it is more than achievable. I had availed of the services of a personal assistant during my education, but I hadn’t arranged a personal assistant for a social event such as attending a concert.
I contacted some companies that I knew provided personal assistants, but because of a number of factors, the said companies were unable to provide support to meet my needs. However, 1 of the companies gave me a website address which I can’t remember, and from there I made contact with Home Instead.
I had heard of Home Instead before, but I hadn’t made contact with them directly. Within 1 hour of my initial call, Home Instead confirmed that they were able to provide a personal assistant to support me in attending the concert and getting to and from my hotel of choice.
I privately funded the support of the personal assistant, but I was able to attend the concert independently, and that fact outweighs the cost of the support in my opinion. Even though I had a great experience with Home Instead, there are a range of personal assistant providers, and I would encourage you to shop-around to get the most cost efficient and professional service for you.
5. Making Time Fly
This will totally depend on where you are travelling to or from, but in my case, it was a 3 hour journey to Dublin and a 3 hour journey back. As you will have already read, I don’t particularly enjoy public transport, and as a result I like to pass the time.
Previously, the best way I have found to do this is put in a pair of headphones and listen to an audiobook, music, or some other audio form of media. However, on my most recent journey, I found myself listening to the audio described versions of Movies and TV Shows downloaded from the sources I discussed in an earlier post.
I first downloaded these files onto my laptop, and then transferred them to my iOS device using an iOS app called Wi-Fi File Transfer. I have written a blog post on AppleVis about Wi-Fi File Transfer as I think it is a great app, and the post also discusses another related app you may be interested in.
Just in case you’re interested, I listened to the audio described versions of Daredevil starring Ben Affleck and the original Fantastic 4 Movie. On previous journeys I have listened to Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, and other movies not associated with Marvel Comics.
6. Optical Character Recognition
Something I use now and again is an OCR iOS app called KNFB Reader, and I found it to be beneficial in this scenario. For example, I was able to take a picture of the paper documentation left in my hotel room, and I was able to listen to the hotel’s in-room greeting presented to all guests which was otherwise inaccessible to me.
I have only skimmed over the capabilities of KNFB Reader, and for more information you can read this post by John O’Regan. Essentially, KNFB Reader is a very useful utility to have on your iOS device to recognise printed material.
I firmly believe that it is more than possible for anyone with a disability to attend a concert or other event, provided that the necessary supports are put in place ahead of time.
Preparation and organisation are the keys to accomplishing such an activity, and the classic saying fail to prepare, prepare to fail comes to mind.
Given the concert I attended was The Corrs, it is only fitting that the musical accompaniment for this post is provided by the said band. The below song is called “I Do What I Like”, it is the opening track from The Corrs latest album called White Light, and it is also the song which opens the tour of the same name.