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Theatre Development Fund's Accessibility Programs (TAP) launches pilot arts-in-education program to help students who are blind or low vision attend the theatre through special audio description.

Date: Apr 29, 2008


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Theatre Development Fund, which has been a leader in programs and advocacy for theatergoers with physical disabilities through their TDF Accessibility Programs (TAP), will be launching a pilot program of a new arts-in-education program that will help students who are blind or who have low vision enjoy Broadway theatre for the first time in their lives.

Seventy-five high school students from four schools the tri-State area will attend the Wednesday, April 30 matinee production of hit Broadway production Grease at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.  Prior to the performance, the students will be visited by teaching artist/theatre audio describer Andrea Day for a special workshop in their classrooms.  There, Ms. Day will work with the students, explaining the process they will be experiencing at the theatre and even bringing sample costumes for them to feel to enhance their theatergoing experience. At the theatre, the students will each wear an earpiece connected to a hand-held FM receiver, provided by Sound Associates.  Ms. Day will be in a side box seat describing key elements of the production, including stage directions, via a wireless FM transmitter, so the students can get a fuller understanding of everything that is happening onstage.

“We are thrilled to be able to make theatre more accessible for these students,” said Director of TDF Accessibility Programs, Lisa Carling. “Through our Talking Hands program we have helped over 10,000 students with mild to severe hearing loss attend the theatre through special open captioned and sign language interpreted productions. We hope to do the same for the extremely underserved population of students who are blind or have low vision. We’re grateful to the producers and management of Grease who are allowing us to test the program at their show, as well as Sound Associates who have been of great assistance. We think the students will love it!”

The students attending are from the following schools and programs: The Schermerhorn Program of The New York Institute for Special Education and Vision Education Service at P721x@360 in The Bronx; The Visions Program in Manhattan; and St. Joseph’s School for the Blind and The Vision Education Class at County Prep High School in Jersey City, N.J.

About TAP

Theatre Development Fund’s Accessibility Programs (TAP) was established in 1979 to provide access to the performing arts for people with physical disabilities.  TAP serves theatergoers with mild to profound hearing loss with regularly scheduled open captioned and American Sign Language interpreted performances of Broadway and Off Broadway shows; serves theatregoers who are partially sighted or blind; people who for medical reasons cannot climb stairs; and people who require aisle seating or use wheelchairs. Through TAP, TDF offers discount orchestra tickets that are chosen with the customer’s specific seating needs in mind. TAP presented the first sign interpreted performance of a Broadway show with The Elephant Man in 1980, again made Broadway history in 1997 with the first open captioned performance of a Broadway show, Barrymore, thus opening up theatre to an entire population of deaf and hard of hearing individuals who are unable to utilize American Sign Language or receive only partial help from assistive listening devices.


TAP, along with The Juilliard School, also sponsors an annual "Interpreting for the Theatre," an annual one-week intensive Institute for professional sign language interpreters from across the United States and overseas. The arts-in-education, Talking Hands, makes theatre accessible to students with mild to severe hearing loss and now this new pilot program will do the same for students who are blind or have low vision.



Grease is the word on Broadway!  America’s favorite musical returns in a brand new production directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (The Pajama Game).  After spending a hopelessly devoted summer with Sandy Dumbrowski, the new girl in town, Danny Zuko's world is thrown upside down when Sandy appears at Rydell High on the first day of school. What follows is a rock n' roll celebration of growin' up, cruisin' with friends and goin' steady.  Grease stars Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, winners of the NBC talent competition series “Grease: You're the One That I Want.”


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