Deaf mum in legal battle with concert promoter over refusal to provide interpreter at Little Mix gig

A deaf mum is in a legal battle with a concert promoter after she and two deaf friends were denied an interpreter at a Little Mix concert.

Sally Reynolds bought tickets for herself and two deaf friends to take their daughters – who can hear – to see the popular band in concert in September.

So that she and her friends could enjoy the performance at the South of England Event Centre in Sussex, Sally asked organisers LHG Live to provide a British Sign Language interpreter.

They declined, instead offering Sally carer tickets so she could bring an interpreter herself, prompting the frustrated mum to legal action.

<em>Battle – Sally Reynolds had to battle to get an interpreter for a Little Mix concert (Pictures: AP)</em>
Battle – Sally Reynolds had to battle to get an interpreter for a Little Mix concert (Pictures: AP)

Sally’s lawyer Chris Fry, managing partner of Fry Law, told Yahoo News UK that they obtained an injunction requiring the promoter to provide an interpreter.

According to the Equality Act 2010, an organisation supplying a service to the public has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to make sure a disabled person’s experience is as close as possible to that of someone without a disability.

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Mr Fry said the move was an unusual step as most people launch legal action after an event where they have been left disappointed by the lack of accessibility.

Days before the concert, LHG agreed to supply an interpreter, but on the night Sally and her friends discovered the service was only provided for Little Mix’s performance – not the support acts.

<em>Experience – Sally and her lawyer say concerts are experiences and by only have an interpreter for one part of it, she missed out</em>
Experience – Sally and her lawyer say concerts are experiences and by only have an interpreter for one part of it, she missed out

Mr Fry said: “As Sally says, that’s a bit like going to a movie and only being able to watch the end. And so the action continues, because although they did supply, after the injunction, interpreting support, they didn’t make the entire event accessible.

“Concerts are experiences, they are memorable events and they should be accessible for everybody.”

Mr Fry said given that the first disability-specific legislation was introduced in 1995, and the Equality Act in 2010, it was “really surprising” that some service providers hadn’t taken any steps to make reasonable adjustments.

He added: “Promoters should anticipate that at any event there are likely to be people with sight loss, hearing loss as well as people with more obvious disabilities. Hopefully they will listen to this and think, ‘right, we need to do something about this’.”

In a statement, LHG Live said following Sally’s request it contacted the British Deaf Association and Attitude is Everything to ascertain the most suitable solution, but as neither organisation could help it went to commercial organisation Performance Interpreting Ltd.

“LHG Live were also advised by all three organisations at this point, that the minimum time required for any interpreter to learn lyrics of a known band is 4-6 weeks,” it said.

The statement said after further engagement with Sally, LHG Live agreed to various steps to make the event accessible for her, including: supplying an interpreter; putting the group directly in front of the stage; sending an advanced copy of the schedule; upgrading Sally’s tickets; offering private toilet facilities; and ensuring all public announcements were made on giant screens either side of the main stage.

It added: “The support acts were not confirmed until 10 days before the Little Mix show, on August 22, leaving insufficient and unreasonable length of time for the interpreter to learn the lyrics, particularly as one of the bands was an Australian act.

“On September 4 2017, immediately after the Little Mix show LHG Live engaged once more directly with the British Deaf Association and Attitude is Everything to look at potential solutions and ensure the correct accessibility longer term at music events. A meeting of all the relevant parties was scheduled to discuss the way forward, which will take place in February 2018.”

A spokesman for Little Mix told the BBC: “Little Mix strongly believe their concerts should be completely inclusive for all.

“The band welcome all fans to their shows, including those with hearing impairment, and encourage the promoters they work with to make provisions to ensure their fans can enjoy the concert experience.”