How to make your nightclub accessible
I have a disability; I am in a wheelchair and cannot talk. I love going to nightclubs. I have been to ones in New Zealand, Australia and China.
Taxis and parking can be an issue before people even get to the door. I don't think that you can control taxis although maybe if you know of a good taxi company you might want to put their contact information on your website. You may want to put information about accessible parking or drop of zones on your website.
An accessible nightclub building
Some nightclubs are upstairs and that is problematic. A good sized lift is advisable.
Bouncers usually help me upstairs but this is not always the case. There may be concerns about liabilities surrounding this from the club owner's perspective.
A flat, ground floor entrance would be ideal for people who use wheelchairs. A floor that is all flat is good otherwise this be troublesome for people who control manual wheelchairs. I imagine that this would also help reduce accidents from drunken people who are abled bodied too.
Some nightclubs have a lip to the dance floor. Sometimes it is dark and people do not see it. This happened to me once so I prefer venues that have a flat floor.
People who have epilepsy generally avoid dance clubs because of the strobes. A person on Facebook told me that she prefers flat floors because it easier to out if they encounter a problem. A staff member placed near the entrance who could (among other things) look out for people that have problematic reactions could be a good idea.
If your venue does have steps a portable ramp for wheelchairs could help with access. This could be useful for getting people on stages too.
Some venues have an accessible entrance at the back which require the time of staff members to let the people with disabilities in. An entrance at the front could be more efficient for your staff.
The standard things like wide doorways and accessible toilets would help. You may want to have lluminated "EXIT" signs too.
Hand rails on some areas on the walls may be helpful to some people.
Communities are banning plastic straws to be more environmentally friendly but this has accessibility issues as some people can't drink out of glasses. Paper straws are a better alternative so you may want to offer paper straws to people that ask for them.
I use a sipper bottle as that is the only way that I can drink. It is rare that I am refused service because of this was but it does happen. A flexible and understanding staff could help avoid these types of issues.
Some clubs pour the drink into a glass then pour the drink into the bottle. Some leave it up to the assistant (carer) to pour the glass into the sipper bottle.
Other advice for nightclub employees and managers
People who are users of manual wheelchairs can be lower down than people who stand. You may want to ensure that your bar staff can get out and listen if the customer desires this.
Drunken people can annoy people with disabilities but this is just life. There are people who hold your hand even though you don't want them to. Some bouncers occasionally ask if I am OK occasionally but this is unnecessary.
I once had a person who questioned my ability to consent to a drink; I was furious but I think that my friend just laughed. This was not the bar but if this was coming from staff members it could be problematic for the bar. Questioning whether somebody can consent to drink is highly insulting.
If the person with a disability is like me they would like dancing amongst the crowd. This is not a safety issue for a typical nightclub. Crowded hard rock concerts can be problematic admittedly but most of the time it's fine.
It is basic equality to let people dance with everybody else. People will complain if you don't.
I think that crowds like wheelchair users dancing amongst them. They usually allow the user to move into a spot to dance. Sometimes I am encouraged to go into the mosh pit by the crowd.
Venues that have shows sometimes let me know so I can move to the front before they start.
Some people cannot spend long periods on their feet so you may want to have seating available at several locations. Spots could include the bar, the side of the dance floor and near the smoking area.
Catering to assistants (carers)
I know that a venue used to give my assistant free soft drinks. I am not suggesting that this is required but you can choose to do this if you want.
If you have a fee on entry some venues will let the assistant to the person with a disability in for free. You don't have to do this but some assistants are just attending as a job and the person who has a disability ends up paying. Many persons with disabilities are on low incomes so it would really help them out if assistants enter free.
Some people who have disabilities and their assistants' smoke so ensuring that a smoking area is accessible is also helpful. Personally I like to stay where I am while they smoke.
Accessibility beyond your venue
Websites can also have accessibility issues and it would be helpful if you can request an accessible website from your web designer. If more people can access your website this helps promote your venue.
Some venues have an accessibility section on their websites. You can choose to do this if you think that this will be helpful.
You may want to make the accessibly capabilities clear if other businesses sell tickets for events for your venue. I was told that a show was accessible but it was upstairs with no lift. I ended up on a seat by the merchandise table.
Thank you for considering my advice
Ensuring that your nightclub is accessible can be your contribution to enable people with disabilities feel equal in society.
I hope that I have given you some pointers on how to make your building accessible and how to train your staff to be sensitive to people with disabilities.