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How TDF Accessibility Programs Welcomed Audiences Back to the Theatre

Date: Jul 29, 2022

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Over the past year, TDF Accessibility Programs transitioned from virtual offerings to in-person performances, bringing individuals with disabilities back to live theatre. Our team has been hard at work making shows accessible for our TAP members. Unlike TDF’s general membership, TAP membership is free and offers discount tickets and accommodations. Learn more about TDF Accessibility Programs and how to become a TAP member.

Since NYC theatres reopened, TDF has hosted more than 30 open captioned and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performances on Broadway and beyond. Members who are Deaf or are hard of hearing recently attended performances of Shakespeare in the Park's Richard III, Broadway's Moulin Rouge! The Musical, and Suffs and Fat Ham, both at The Public Theater. Six open captioned performances were sponsored by individual donors. If you're interested in sponsoring captioning for a show, please email Kate Garst at kateg@tdf.org. Sponsors receive two complimentary tickets to the underwritten performance as well as acknowledgements on the caption board and in the program.

Watch TAP member and TDF donor Shari Eberts talk about the importance of open captioned performances in the video below.

 

TDF also hosts audio described performances for TAP members who are blind or have low vision. A specially trained describer verbalizes what's happening on stage into a headset microphone during pauses in dialogue. Individuals using the service listen through a receiver with a single earpiece. Over the past 12 months, TDF has presented ten audio described performances, including Macbeth on Broadway, and Fat Ham and The Vagrant Trilogy, both at The Public Theater.

Watch TAP members talk about the impact of this program in the video below.

 

TDF also offers these accommodations to young audiences through our TDF Accessibility Program for Students. Formerly known as Access for Young Audiences, this program serves tristate-area students in elementary, middle and high schools. Most are first-time theatregoers. For students who are hard of hearing or Deaf, TDF provides simultaneous ASL interpretation and open captioning. For students who are blind or have low vision, TDF provides live audio description. Performances are scheduled on select Wednesday matinees during the school year. This past spring, TDF welcomed 299 students from 41 partner schools to a total of four accessible performances of Wicked on Broadway. Two were audio described, and two provided open captioning/American Sign Language-interpretation. In addition, TDF offered virtual programming throughout fall 2021 to participating schools. We're already planning our TDF Accessibility Program for Students outings for this fall. If you're interested in attending one, please reach out to Kate Garst at kateg@tdf.org.

Watch a student share her enthusiastic reaction to one of TDF's open captioned/ASL-interpreted performances of Wicked in the video below.

 

In a previous Champions Corner, we talked about our triumphant return to in-person Autism Friendly Performances with a matinee of Come From Away on January 30, 2022. Since then, we've hosted two other Autism Friendly Performances on Broadway: Disney's The Lion King on March 6, 2022, and Aladdin on May 1, 2022. More than 2,600 individuals with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensory issue and their families attended these events. We're already prepping our lineup for next season and hope to present a total of five Autism Friendly Performances.

Enjoy an inspiring, behind-the-scenes peek at TDF’s Autism Friendly Performance of Disney's The Lion King in the video below.


As we prepare for the new season, TDF continues to break down barriers so theatre is accessible to all. Our TDF Accessibility Programs are part of how we make our mission a reality.

Top image: Attendees at a TDF audio described performance of Cullud Wattah at The Public Theater. Photo by Elyse Orecchio.

 

Updates from TDF for our Champions. Thank you for playing a pivotal role in our mission to make art accessible to all.