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Making Broadway More Accessible

Broadway Inbound

More than 500 members of the theatre industry, along with community members from Deaf and hearing-loss community, and those living with vision loss attended TDF and The Broadway League’s first-ever Accessibility Summit in late November.  Hosted by The Shubert Organization and Sound Associates, The Summit included discussions and demonstrations of the new technologies being implemented on Broadway to make theatre more accessible and improve the theatergoing experience for those with specific needs.

Among these technologies are assistive listening, audio description, and closed captioning—many of which will be available on-demand using the audience members’ own smartphone or tablet via Galapro, a new app available on IOS and Android devices.

In addition to theatre owners and other Broadway industry leaders, attendees included Marlee Matlin, Academy Award winner for Children of a Lesser God, and Lauren Ridloff, who will soon be starring in the Broadway revival of the play. Also in attendance were leaders from the Hearing Accommodation Task Force of New York, Hands On, AEA-SAG/AFTRA; the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), Deaf West, and more.

Panels at the Accessibility Summit focused on supporting and training the communities served by these new on-demand services, new TDF accessibility programs including autism and sensory-friendly programming, and discussions of what’s next in ASL access. Attendees got an in-depth look at the GalaPro, which provides a seamless interface for audio description and closed captioning, plus eventually language translation for participating shows.

“The message that the theater community and the accessibility community are united in wanting to maximize the enjoyment of live stage entertainment for everyone came across in resounding fashion,” commented Jerry Bergman, Founder and Chair, Hearing Accommodation Task Force of New York.

Plans are already in the works for the next Accessibility Summit, to take place later in 2018. Between now and then, the Broadway industry will be working to implement these new technologies and educate the public, with an eye on completion of on-demand closed captioning and audio description services by June 2018.

Children of a Lesser God is on sale to groups now, and will feature some ASL-interpreted performances. Visit the show page below to get your tickets now, and stay tuned for more news about the future of accessibility in the Broadway community.

Author: Todd Rappaport