Deaf community voices frustrations with BOK Center deaf seating and ticketing
January 15, 2015
TULSA – It was supposed to be an enjoyable experience, but Glenna Cooper says going to the Garth Brooks concert in Tulsa was a nightmare.
“Here at the BOK, it just seems to be a constant struggle,” Cooper said, through an interpreter.
Cooper is deaf, so when she goes to a concert she buys special tickets to sit in a designated deaf section.
Speaking not just for herself, but on behalf of a a group of deaf individuals throughout Oklahoma, she says going to a show at the BOK Center can be a hassle.
“It’s all been building up and finally people just started venting after the Garth Brooks concert,” she said.
The BOK Center requires that if you buy a ticket online and you are deaf, you must personally bring that ticket to the box office in advance to exchange it for a seat in the deaf section.
This is for security reasons to prove your identity so that someone else can’t try to buy or re-sell the ticket and try to exchange it unlawfully.
It is also illegal to ask someone to prove they are disabled.
But for the deaf that live hours out of town, this is an inconvenience.
Cooper also says the deaf section is too far away from the stage for deaf people to see the concert and watch the sign language interpreter at the same time.
“We feel that we’re paying to look at the interpreter and not look at the concert,” Cooper said.
So she contacted the 2NEWS Problem Solvers.
Cooper was communicating with BOK Center staff to set up a meeting with the deaf community to address their concerns, but she says they weren’t getting anywhere.
We contacted the BOK Center to get answers.
In a written statement a spokeswoman Casey Sparks says the BOK Center has these rules in place for the customers’ protection.
Sparks told us that they have been in touch with the deaf community and are working to find a date and time to meet so they can work out these issues.
After the Problem Solvers communication with both parties, Cooper immediately got an email from Sparks apologizing for the miscommunication and making further efforts to set up a formal meeting.
“We’re thrilled that we can get this information and go forward,” Cooper said.
The BOK Center has also decided to change its ticketing policy for future shows.
All venues will allow the deaf to purchase tickets for special seating, they won’t have to exchange regular tickets anymore.
Sparks says this will create new issues for anyone will special needs because there will be no guarantee these seats will not be “abused” by the general public.
And the Problem Solvers will have an update of the results of that meeting once it takes place.