Box Office Software and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
Venues are required to sell tickets for accessible seats in the same manner and under the same conditions as all other ticket sales.
This means that if you are selling tickets online, people entitled to purchase the handicapped seats should be able to purchase them online. This is straight-forward, but how do you prevent other people from buying the handicapped seats? The box office software must provide a way to let all buyers know which seats are designated handicapped or companion. Unfortunately, this is not foolproof, but there really is no foolproof way of preventing others from purchasing online.
The box office software should also let you block certain seats, so you can always hold ADA seats for emergency situations.
Venues cannot charge higher prices for accessible seats than for non-accessible seats in the same seating section.
Most box office systems that support reserved seating allow you to set whatever prices you wish. This requirement is easy to implement with most systems.
Venues and third-party sellers must provide the same information about accessible seats as provided about non-accessible seats, using the same text and visual representations.
Again, this is easy to achieve with most box office ticketing software systems. In addition, the system should allow you to clearly specify the sets and ADA seats to discourage others from purchasing those seats.
People purchasing a ticket for an accessible seat may purchase up to three additional seats for their companions in the same row and these seats must be contiguous with the accessible seat.
The online seating map displayed by the ticketing system should specify that the seats are for companion seats – again to discourage others from purchasing them. Also, the box office software should allow you to block those seats if you wish.
Many venues offer a group sales rate for groups of a pre-determined size. If a group includes one or more individuals who need accessible seating, the entire group should be seated together in an area that includes accessible seating.
Ticketing systems that allow ticket buyers to select their own seats have this capability naturally since the person selecting seats on behalf of the group and select seats together – to the extent available. The box office allocating three companion seats also helps enable this.
Generally, tickets for accessible seats may not be sold to members of the general public who do not need the specific features of accessible seats.
However, the ADA specifications state that if all non-accessible seats have been sold, event producers can sell accessible seats to the public. A common practice, however, is to keep the accessible seats available – even if all other seats have been sold – until minutes before the show when it is certain that accessible seats will not be required for entitled buyers.
If venues permit patrons to give or sell their tickets to others, the same right must be extended to patrons with disabilities who hold tickets for accessible seats and to persons with disabilities who intend to buy or receive tickets on the secondary ticket market.
This requirement is more policy and is not impacted by your box office software since the secondary sales is occurring outside of your box office system which is handling primary sales. Note that someone who purchased a handicapped seat may sell it to someone who does not require a handicapped seat.
Venues cannot require proof of disability as a condition for purchasing tickets for accessible seats.
Again, this requirement is more policy and not impacted by your ticketing system.
A critical and often overlooked component of ensuring successful compliance is comprehensive and ongoing staff training. You may have established good policies, but if your staff are not aware of them or do not know how to implement them, problems can arise.
The training provided by your box office software company must include how to handle ADA ticketing.