Enhancing Accessibility: How Technology Supports Inclusivity in Sports Venues

Enhancing Accessibility: How Technology Supports Inclusivity in Sports Venues

According to 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 42.5 million people (or 13% of the population) have a disability in the United States. Additionally, an estimated 133 million people (nearly half the population) have at least one chronic condition. As years pass, these numbers continue to grow.

For most non-disabled people, playing in or attending a sporting event doesn’t pose many challenges. But for disabled and chronically ill people, attending a game or participating in a sport often means jumping through inconvenient, or sometimes downright dangerous, hoops.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires newly built and renovated public spaces to implement certain accessibility standards. 

In a world that’s growing to be more inclusive and accessible, the sports industry is keeping pace. Technology now plays a large role in supporting accessibility efforts for sports venues of all sizes. Read on to discover:

  • The importance of accessibility in sports
  • ADA requirements & additional best practices
  • How tech supports accessibility efforts in sports venues

The Importance of Accessibility in Sports for Players & Fans

It’s not a fluke that sports are popular around the world, as they:

  • Bring people together no matter their background
  • Encourage teamwork
  • Showcase the extremes of human potential
  • Give people something to root for

A lack of inclusivity and accessibility means that people with disabilities get excluded from participating in or watching live sports. Plus, it also perpetuates social misconceptions about disabilities and chronic illnesses.

The widely held belief that everyone deserves to have equal opportunities to engage with sports has ignited innovation, development, and implementation in multiple facets of the sports industry— including stadium and venue accessibility. 

ADA Accessibility Standards for Sports Facilities

The ADA mandates that new and renovated stadiums be accessible for people with disabilities. Some of the following requirements are the same for other buildings, and some are specific to stadiums.


At least 1% of seating must be wheelchair seating— including in premium seating areas. A companion seat must also be provided next to each wheelchair seating location. The route to wheelchair seating locations must be accessible from parking and transportation areas and must connect to all other public areas like concessions, rest rooms, and exits.


All food service areas and souvenir stands must be accessible with lowered counters within reach of a person using a wheelchair.

Access to Player/Performer Spaces

An accessible route must give access to all areas used by players and performers, including the field, locker rooms, warm-up areas, and more.

Assistive Listening Systems

Assistive listening systems are required for people who are hard of hearing when audible communications are fundamental to the use of a particular stadium. These systems amplify sound and deliver it to a special receiver or the spectator’s hearing aid.

Accessible Parking Spaces

If parking is provided, it must include accessible parking spaces for cars and vans. The spots must be the closest parking spaces to accessible entrances.

Accessible Drop-Off & Pick-Up Areas

If drop-off and pick-up areas are provided, they must be accessible and attach to an accessible route that leads to an accessible entrance.

Accessible Entrances

At least 50% of all stadium entrances must be accessible. If an entrance isn’t accessible, it must have a sign that directs the public to the nearest accessible entrance.

Rest Rooms

At least 50% of all stadium entrances must be accessible. If an entrance isn’t accessible, it must have a sign that directs the public to the nearest accessible entrance.

Public Telephones

Public telephone banks must have at least one wheelchair accessible telephone. Telephones must have the ability to amplify volume at the handset, and signage must indicate which telephones are equipped with amplification.

Drinking Fountains

Half of the drinking fountains must accommodate people who stand but have difficulty bending and half must accommodate people who use wheelchairs.

Visual Alarms

Flashing lights are required in public spaces when audible fire alarms or emergency notifications are provided, including in restrooms, locker rooms, and public corridors.


Identifying signs (such as those for rest rooms and exits) must be able to be read visually or tactually with Braille and raised numbers or letters.

Additional Accessibility Best Practices for Stadiums

While the above section outlines every category required by the ADA, many stadiums choose to go above and beyond by incorporating additional accessibility features for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Some of these additional best practices include:

  • Quiet rooms
  • Sensory bags
  • Noise canceling earmuffs
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Wheelchair rental

A 2024 study by Casino.com found the top ten most accessible large-capacity stadiums in the United States. Stadiums were scored based on the following accessibility factors:

      ✓ Number of accessible seating areas
      ✓ Number of accessible parking lots
      ✓ Shuttle bus provided
      ✓ Walking distance from closest public transport station
      ✓ Wheelchair rental
      ✓ Closed captioning
      ✓ Sign language interpretation
      ✓ Accessible restrooms
      ✓ Number of elevators

According to the study, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas achieved the #1 spot as the most accessible stadium with a score of 8.7 out of 10. 

How Tech Supports Accessibility Efforts in Sports Venues

Certain accessibility practices are required by law, but more and more organizations are following in the footsteps of AT&T Stadium and enhancing their accessibility offerings with the help of technology. Here are some of the ways technology supports accessibility in sporting venues:

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology presents a viable alternative for individuals who are unable to attend live sporting events for any reason. If an individual is more comfortable in the comfort of their own home instead of a stadium, VR can deliver an immersive experience that feels just like being present in the stadium.

Interactive Maps & Venue Tours

Plenty of accessibility practices can also happen prior to arriving at the stadium or venue. For example, providing access to interactive maps, immersive venue tours, or know-before-you-go guides can help reduce stress and anxiety for attendees by clearly outlining where certain amenities like sensory rooms, accessible entrances, and assistive listening devices can be found.

This is just one of the many reasons so many ticketing professionals rely on the use of DIGIDECK presentations for interactive tours and maps that can be sent to attendees prior to the event.

Captioning Systems

Stadiums are incorporating captioning system technology onto video displays and scoreboards so that those who are deaf or hard of hearing can access important game-related information and announcements.

Mobile Apps

More and more sporting venues are implementing mobile apps so that people with differing abilities can enjoy a personalized experience. Apps can provide real-time accessibility information and even send alerts about large crowds and long lines. Long lines and crowded areas may be a small annoyance for non-disabled people, but for disabled, chronically-ill, or neurodivergent people, crowded areas can be detrimental. Real-time alerts allow people to find a better route if necessary.

Location-aware smartphone apps can also guide visually impaired fans through a stadium to help them find their seats, concessions, and restrooms. 

How Tech Supports Accessibility Efforts in Sports Venues

As technology continues to advance, so will the ways sports stadiums and venues can enhance accessibility. If your team is interested in providing crystal clear information about your venue’s accessibility offerings before guests ever arrive, consider joining 500+ top organizations and adding DIGIDECK to your tech stack.

By leveraging interactive maps, 360° panoramic tours, and know-before-you-go guides before spectators arrive on sight, guests feel more comfortable, prepared, and included in your stadium experience. Plus, DIGIDECK offers a suite of additional sales enablement features including viewership analytics, automated rulesets, and CRM integrations.

Learn more about how your venue can leverage DIGIDECK by scheduling a demo today!

Get Started

You’re ready to get in touch. Let’s see what we can build together.