The Social – A Solid Example of Entertainment Venue Failure with Accessibility

image of a rock concert audience in the background, waving their hands up, in the front the text "The Social" and the word Fail slapped over the foreground .

The Social – A Solid Example of Entertainment Venue Failure with Accessibility

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Today we’d like to share the frustrating story behind Emily and her husband Derek‘s attempt to see a concert at The Social1 in Orlando, Florida in 2023.

One the left side of the photo is Emily, a young woman with long blond hair, glasses and smile. On the right is Derek, her husband, a man with should length curly hair, glasses, and a smile. Behind them is a full bookcase.

Emily and Derek were anxious to attend a concert at The Social and with that excitement, they planned out accommodations they would need because Emily is Deaf. Industry standard, as stated by Derek, is to contact the venue and give them two to three week notice ahead of an event and request an ASL interpreter to be in attendance. This wasn’t their ‘first rodeo’ with these types of requests, so Emily and Derek requested an interpreter six weeks in advance because they wanted to give the venue enough time to find an interpreter and schedule them.

A representative from The Social, contacted them after this request and told them they were responsible for arranging and paying for an interpreter themselves.

Derek informed them that was not his understanding on how the ADA works and representatives at The Social stopped communicating with them all together, in spite of repeated weekly requests for an update to their request. The representatives at The Social “ghosted” this couple up until they showed up for the event.

When they arrived at the event, Emily and Derek asked to see the manager to inquire about the interpreter and the manager on duty stated for them to either “read the bands lips” or “Google the lyrics“.

The manager also stated that “this issue was above them” in employee hierarchy. We interpret that as a dismissive comment to push off any ill-will directed at the manager onto their superiors which could not fend for themselves because they were not present. The manager should very well have known about the situation as they would have been responsible for meeting the interpreter and guiding them where to stand safely in the venue.

Regardless of which statement the manager made, their answer was decidedly uneducated and it is clear they are 100% untrained to handle ADA requests from patrons. We are absolutely not surprised as many businesses never take the time to read through the FREE and helpful information on the ADA website.

According to the ADA website:

You may not require a person with a disability to bring their own interpreter.

This is exactly what The Social did, and with malice (the intent to ignore and discontinue communication with the couple).

This means that collectively, the entities contained within this building would not face a burden to provide an interpreter, and if that was the case, they would have immediately stated that in those terms to protect themselves legally. On appearances alone, they have the budget to provide an interpreter.

The Social is a venue located within another theater called The Beacham which appears to be a Title III venue and owned by a larger corporation called SMK Entities 2

We contacted AML Global a regarding the cost of hiring a performative ASL interpreter for a music event and they stated for 4 hours, the cost of hiring 2 (as required by this company) performative ASL interpreters to work at the concert would have totaled $1320.00 3.

We also contacted ASL Services which contracts with venues and businesses located within Orange County, Florida, including The Social and we will post their rates when they come available.

From the ADA: Businesses and nonprofits: in determining whether a particular aid or service would result in an undue burden, a title III entity should take into consideration the nature and cost of the aid or service relative to their size, overall financial resources, and overall expenses. In general, a business or nonprofit with greater resources is expected to do more to ensure effective communication than one with fewer resources. If the entity has a parent company, the administrative and financial relationship, as well as the size, resources, and expenses of the parent company, would also be considered.

Considering the high mark up on alcoholic drinks, fees to bands, employees on staff, and everything that goes with running an event, this is a small sum for a business of this magnitude.

The Disconnect

With an entertainment venue/company that owns one good review on, there seems to be an internal disconnect between”owners are understanding”, “(owners) make sure all jobs are done correctly”, and “company strives on customer satisfaction” when it applies to disabled individuals.


Currently there is no resolution between The Social and the couple apart from a partial refund. The couple is currently seeking legal advice on how to proceed with this gross misjudgement in error on the part of The Social. They’re wish is to make sure it doesn’t happen again to anyone else.  If you know a legal representative willing to take on their case or even direct them, you can contact us and we will relay the information to Derek and Emily.

Part 2 was released on 3/15/24, the day this article was released, and there has been some movement but it’s not positive. The company refused mediation, and the state of Florida (Florida Commission on Human Relations) ‘judged’ there was no issue. This may be related to the time frame of reporting the incident (time limitations). Meanwhile, the company’s statement to the FCHR accused Derek of misinterpreting the events that evening to Emily which calls upon the oldest trope in the Encyclopedia of Ableism that Deaf people don’t understand the world and what’s going on around them. If a company refuses to mediate with you (a requirement when filing a case of this nature) and they drag it out, of course a time limit will expire on getting justice. It’s devastating all around for anyone facing a giant and we’re behind Emily and Derek, hoping to spread the word. This isn’t over.

As champions of diversity in the entertainment industry,  which includes accessibility, we hope that artists like Noah Gundersen, Kelsy Karter & The Heroines, The Armed, Chase Petra, Erick The Architect, skaiwater, Live Dead & Brothers, Ryan Caraveo, Fastball, Taylor Acorn, DEKO with Yameii & Friends, Breakup Shoes, Julia Wolf, F.Y.A.H., Sun Room, Games We Play, Fly By Midnight, The Dip, The Verve Pipe, Dustin Kensrue, Geese, Rich Amiri, Cheekface, The Beaches, G Flip, Caleb Gordon, Caskey and Angel Hill, JMSN and the rest of the artists performing at The Social this Spring, use their collective voices and platforms and ask if there are any Deaf or other disabled individuals in the audience that evening and if they have been appropriately accommodated so that they can enjoy your music. Don’t let this slide.

We cannot stress enough, how important accessibility is in every industry, especially our star struck corner of it.


Fans and artists alike, please help us, by demanding more accountability from venues where you attend and perform like ‘The Social’.


Music is for Everyone.

The story in their words:

Part 1


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Derek (@thesigningd)

Part 2


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Derek (@thesigningd)


  1. The Social
  2. SMK Entities
  3. Cost for an ASL interpreter in Orlando, Florida provided by AML Global
    $165/hour, 2 performative interpreters required for musical events (trade off) for 4 hours = $1320
    Due to a nationwide shortage of interpreters, they also stated that 6-8 weeks is the preferred notification period.Cost for an ASL  interpreter in Orlando, Florida provided by ____
  4. ADA law enforcement
    The Department of Justice enforces ADA laws and can help determine whether requested accommodations are reasonable. If you believe that a child day care operation may be practicing discrimination in violation of Title III, you may call the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-414-0301 (voice) or 1-833-610-1264 (TTY).
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