An audience at a performance

A note on concessionary pricing

The issue of concessionary ticket pricing is controversial and different theatres have different policies in place.

There are number of reasons why you would choose to offer concessionary prices (or other related benefits) to disabled people and these apply in relation, too, to pricing for D/deaf, blind and partially sighted people attending assisted performances.

These reasons could be characterised as being:

Financial model

This model acknowledges that D/deaf, blind and partially sighted people are, statistically, more likely to experience financial hardship. This is for a number of reasons including, for example, the fact they are at least twice as likely to be out of work as non-disabled people and that it can be costly to manage life as a D/deaf or disabled person.

This model is based on the principle that nobody should be excluded from cultural activity on financial grounds.

One version of this model simplifies it to be about whether the person in question is in receipt of disability-related benefits. Within this model, it may consistent to ask whether the person is entitled to that benefit.

Practical model

This model takes account of any practical requirements someone might need in order to enjoy a performance on the same terms as anyone else.

For example, this model may charge a disabled person the same price for a ticket as anyone else but offer an additional free seat if that disabled person needs a companion with them to support them. Or a disabled person may be offered a more expensive seat at the same price as a stalls seat if they need that particular seat in order to be able to access the performance.

Compensatory model

This model is based on the belief that full access is not possible and therefore a D/deaf, blind or partially sighted person, even attending an assisted performance, will not, in reality, have the same quality of experience as a hearing and sighted person. The reduced price is in recognition of this fact as it would be unfair to charge the same price for a compromised experience.

This model may be applied specifically when choices or facilities at a venue are restricted in ways that cannot be addressed; for example wheelchair users may need to access the bar via a circuitous route or by exiting and then entering the building.

Charity model

This model offers concessionary pricing as a charitable gesture to D/deaf and disabled people. It is not the ideal justification for offering a concession, because it is based on feeling sorry for disabled people, rather than on reasoned logic.


This is not, strictly speaking, a model, but there are venues that offer concessionary pricing simply because they are fearful of litigation or bad publicity.

They have not necessarily thought through the issues, they don’t necessarily know why they are offering reduced prices but they are vaguely aware that this is what some venues are doing and so they follow suit. Others are simply following procedure required by, for example, a local authority. It is not litigation that frightens them so much as losing funding.

In both cases the introduction of concessionary prices is not backed up by solid reasoning and therefore would not show a considered approach to the audience for your access shows.

The social model

The social model of disability, when applied to concessionary pricing, combines elements of the financial, compensatory and practical models since it is about removing barriers and obstacles that disabled people face.

Now go to: A note on the Equality Act (2010)