Thank you very much. And welcome, everyone to the ADA distance learning series. A collaborative effort of the 10 regional Disability Business and Technical Assistance Centers, DBTAC''s. We truly appreciate your support of the ADA distance learning series for the 2002/2003 season. You can find out more information about the Americans with disabilities act and also about accessible electronic and information technology by contacting your regional ADA center at 1-800-949-4232, by contacting your regional center, you can find out information about our September 16th distance learning session. Which is entitled "Best practices in accessible electronic and information technology policy". On the 16th of September we are joined by a representative of Access IT. Out of the University of Washington. And also by representatives of the Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training center, ITTATC out of Georgia Tech. And they will help us look at what are the best practices, what policies are out there for addressing E&IT. Before it is even purchased or before the E&IT is developed. And ensuring that persons with disabilities using assistive technology and other ways of accessing people with disabilities have the same level of access to the E&IT that other individuals have. The 2002/2003 season will end on September 16th, and we will kick off the 2003-2004 season in October. You can find out information about that new season in the schedule and topics for those sessions by contacting your regional ADA center in the upcoming weeks. There will also be information sent out to regular subscribers to the distance learning. So please stay tuned. You can also find information regarding the schedule for the next season. At the great lakes website at www.adagreatlakes.org. Currently, on the great lakes website, today''s audio conference is realtime captioned. You can click on the link there to get to access the realtime captioning that is taking place. You can also find transcripts from past sessions on the great lakes website located at www.adagreatlakes.org. Alrighty. On to today''s session, we are fortunate to have with us today Betty Siegel. She is the accessibility manager at the JFK center for the performing arts in Washington, D.C. Last august, Betty joined us to look at ticketing policies, and what is taking place in the performing arts and how are they meeting their obligations to provide individuals with disabilities who need accessible seating locations, a variety of site lines and access to various price levels. Well, today, Betty has agreed to join us and talk about ensuring access to all people through the provision of auxiliary agent services through the provision of sign language interpreters, closed captioning, assistive listening devices and providing materials in alternative formats. Before we start, I would like to thank you, because we appreciate your time and effort that you have given to us, and I''m sure that there will be lots of individuals who will have questions for you. But at this time I would like to turn it over, everyone, to Betty Siegel.
Thanks very much. As peter knows I''m extremely nervous about this presentation, and I am not the kind of person that gets nervous easily. And I was trying to figure out why I was so nervous. I realized that I really think that, Peter, in the future you should do video phone conferences with-to ensure effective communication for nervous presenters like me who feed off a live audience and find it frustrating when I can''t see who I''m speaking to. But let me start off by talking briefly about the JFK center approach to ensuring effective communication through the provision of auxiliary aids and services. I will use the Kennedy center as a case study and give you insight into my own personal approach to making theaters and performing arts accessible. And then I would like to open it up as quickly as possible to questions. If I don''t address your specific issue, or concern, in my formal presentation, then I''m sure we will get to it when we get to the Q&A. So the topic today is ensuring effective communication through the provision of auxiliary aids and services. I would like to start with a brief definition. Because we don''t often know what it means, effective communication. In a nutshell, effective communication is the provision of auxiliary aids and services that make orally delivered materials available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. And make visually-delivered materials available to people who are blind or have low vision. Examples of things that would be considered to be auxiliary aids and services include, but are not limited to, qualified interpreters, computer-aided transcription services, captioning, assistive listening devices, audio recordings, braille, large print. But is that the right place to start? By just listing the types of auxiliary aids and services we could be providing for our patrons with disabilities? I don''t think so. My firm belief is that to provide effective communication, you have to start with two things. And those two things are-first and foremost-the community. And by this, I mean the community of people who are supposed to benefit from and use the auxiliary aids and services that we in the theater and performing arts and cultural arts centers provide. And secondly, I think we have to start with making a clear commitment to accessibility. And then to developing policies and procedures that support that commitment. I want to start with community. I like to get people with disabilities from the local community involved. What works in Austin, Texas, doesn''t work in Washington, D.C. And most importantly for you, you need to know what your community wants and expects. I want to know what my community wants, what they like. Don''t like about what the Kennedy center is doing, and I want to get a gauge on what they consider to be the most important thing I can do. This helps me, because it helps me set my priorities. It helps me to better use my resources, which include my staff time, my time, my energy, and for many of us, a very important resource, our money. There are traditional ways of getting the community involved. By establishing advisory committees. Almost every book you will ever pick up and read about providing access in a performing arts environment will encourage you to put together an advisory committee. But honestly, I found when I came here to the Kennedy center in D.C. that it was really difficult to get a standing advisory committee together. Everyone is so busy. Meeting once a month was almost impossible to schedule. Juggling people''s schedules. And what is more, the issues that I had to deal with popped up daily. And I frequently didn''t have a lot of turnaround time in which to make the decisions. I couldn''t wait for the advisory committee meeting in two weeks when the issue was in my lap today. So here at the Kennedy center, I have moved away from the concept of the traditional advisory committee, and instead, I use task forces and I take advantage of e-mail. Let me explain that. What I do is identify knowledgeable people with disabilities in the community that have a global perspective on accessibility. I try to find people who love the performing arts. And more importantly, I try to find people who have come to the Kennedy center, so they have a clear and personal relationship with the building and the programs that I represent. I also like to take advantage of the many national associations that serve people with disabilities, and my contacts with professionals in the field from across the nation. I''m lucky to live in D.C., a lot of national organizations paralyzed veterans of America, American association of people with disabilities, national association for the deaf, have offices here. And I can tap their resources and their people to help me make decisions about how we provide effective communication. At the Kennedy center. But people outside of D.C. have the advantages of their own local communities and resources like the independent living centers that are in most communities. Affiliates of organizations like self-help for the hard of hearing. And other organizations that are local. Mayors'' committees, Governors'' committees on people with disabilities. I encourage everyone to contact those individuals and get them involved in your policy and planning procedures. I set up task forces for very specific concrete projects. For example, I have a task force made up of four individuals who are all wheelchair users who agreed to come in on an as-needed basis to be a part of the design and review process for all the renovations and architectural changes that are made around the center. Another task force I put together only met twice, and it was made up of people who are blind or had low vision, who agreed to come in and critique our-the readability of our new signs that were-we had samples of that would be going up around the building. My e-mail advisers are ones-ones that I contact when I have a specific and immediate issue crop up like the time I got a request for-to provide a tactile interpreter for a patron who was deaf-blind or when we had an opportunity to switch performances from Tuesday night to Friday night. I needed to know right away, how do I find a tactile interpreter? What kind of provisions would I need to make for that interpreter and for that patron? In the second case, I needed to know right away whether my deaf community here in Washington, D.C., would be more supportive of performances on Friday night than they would be on Tuesday night. I also frequently asked through e-mail for comments on new policies or procedures that the Kennedy center is developing. And these e-mail advisers help me set priorities and determine how to best use my resources. In addition to the task forces and e-mails, my e-mail advisers, I make it a point to go out to community meetings, talk to people, constantly solicit feedback and recommendations. There are numerous improvements that we have made here at the Kennedy center based on community recommendations. Things like setting up a specific customer service phone line that people with disabilities can call. So they don''t have to go through the regular phone tree that other callers go through. Another recommendation that we have taken quite seriously from the community is a recommendation to upgrade equipment for assistive-listening systems. A third recommendation that came straight from the community was for the Kennedy center to try and offer captioning for our performances. This level of community involvement is what I feel keeps the Kennedy center on track and constantly improving the types of services, accommodations, auxiliary aids, and enhancing our communication with our patrons. Now the second thing I mentioned that I think is really important to ensuring effective communication is a clear commitment to accessibility. And then to developing policies and procedures that support that commitment. I''m going to use the Kennedy center as an example here. The center has a general policy on accessibility that is quite simple. And we came up with this policy after about a month or two of going back and forth and back and forth and having policy statements that were two pages long, ten pages long, two paragraphs long. We decided finally really our policy should follow universal design concept and-concepts and be simple. So our policy, our general statement is-we welcome people with disabilities. Now, not only is that a clear and simple statement of our commitment, it pervades all our other policy and procedures. It also defines our attitude toward our patrons with disabilities that we welcome and value them. We go on and state in our policy-our general policy that we strive for accessibility, and that our work is ongoing to ensure that all programs, performances, events and facilities are fully accessible. I think this is really important, because it is the part of our policy statement that that guarantees that I will always have a job here. Accessibility is never done. I know arts administrators really want to say there, we have audio description, we are finished. We never have to worry about that again. But that is not the way accessibility works. It is an ongoing effort and a striving for constantly improving. So when we talk about striving for accessibility, we recognize that creating access is an ongoing process, that we are never finished, that there will always be room for improvements and refinements, and that we recognize that we may not be fully accessible right now but that we are darn sure going to try to be more accessible in the future. The other thing that I try to do with accessibility and policies and procedures, aside from allowing the welcoming statement to infuse them all, is I use what I call the equitability test on all our policies. When we develop a policy and a procedure, I ask myself, is this providing people with disabilities the same level of accommodation that our nondisabled patrons expect? And if not, is it as close as we can get it? So those are the two things that I think are really important to consider before you even begin going into the practical everyday provision of auxiliary aids and services and effective communication. Is you must get the community involved in the process, and you must find out from them whether what you are doing is what they want. Or you are going to be very frustrated because they won''t come and they won''t use them, because they don''t want what you are providing. So get them involved to ensure that you are providing something your community wants. Then secondly, make the commitment and start developing your policies and procedures based on that commitment of inclusion of people with disabilities and welcoming them into your environment. Now real briefly I''m going to run through a list of the auxiliary aids and services that the Kennedy center routinely provides for our patrons with disabilities. This might get a little boring, and I''m hoping when I''m done with these lists, that we can jump right in the-into the question-and-answer session and you all can start asking and we can start a dialogue on things related to these accommodations, other accommodations that you have heard about, or more details on any of these. So for our patrons who are blind or have low vision, at the Kennedy center, we have in place the following basic services. One is something called curb-to-seat. Doormen are on duty at the front doors starting one hour before showtime who will assist any of our patrons with disabilities to get from the curb to the theater. And at the theater, we have ushers who are trying to assist people to their seats. This is important for our patrons who are blind and have low vision. The building is big and confusing. If you haven''t opinion a frequent patron you may not know how to get from point A to point B. So the doormen are available. And they are assigned to assist our patrons to get from the curb to the theater. And once at the theater, the ushers are trained on using sighted guide techniques and how to escort patrons who are blind or have low vision. We trained the volunteer tour guides here at the Kennedy center to give touch tours. How to audio describe the artwork on the tour, how to audio describe the theater space. We put together a package of tactile models and drawing that patrons could use to orient themselves to the center. We made a commitment four years ago to produce all the playbills for all performances and events in large print and braille. I think I must have been nuts. The Kennedy center has up to 3,000 events a year. Most of which have playbills. We have a core group of five volunteers who collectively put in about 40 hours a week to produce every single playbill at the Kennedy center in large print and in braille. Luckily, we are able to do this in-house through our document center, which print the large prints, and we have braille software and a very hardworking embosser that we use to produce all our braille. So now our patrons who are blind or have low vision can show up and expect to get what the rest of us take for granted, which is a playbill in an accessible format. We trained an in-house group of staff and volunteers to provide audio description. We continue to schedule and advertise specific performances as being audio described, but we also strongly encourage patrons who are blind or have low vision to take advantage of our on-request services. Our policy is to ask for at least two weeks'' advance notice, but because we have staff who are trained as describers, we make every effort and are often able to accommodate requests on very short notice. We have done extensive training with all the sales services staff, so that they understand how to accommodate our patrons who are blind or who have low vision. And we have established a free monthly e-mail audio description theater alert. Once a month we send out a list of the upcoming audio-described performances and events at the Kennedy center, and then we also as a courtesy to the other performing arts organizations in the area, include their audio-described performances so you get one monthly alert that tells you about everything that is being audio-described around the Washington, D.C., area. That is what we provide primarily for our patrons who are blind with low vision. I will go into another list now for the types of auxiliary aids and services we provide for patrons who are deaf and hearing impaired. We did extensive testing of and improvements on our assistive listening equipment. We make sure we have equipment that can accommodate those patrons with mild hearing loss and severe hearing loss through induction neck loops and patches for cochlear implants. We have annual training with all ushers who are responsible for handing out and distributing the assistive listening devices so they can assist our patrons in determining what combination or coupling of equipment will work best with or without a patrons'' own hearing aids or if the patron has no hearing aids. There is a TTY in all our sales offices, instant charge, group sales and subscriptions and in addition we installed a TTY in a central location on a public pay phone. We train our staff on how to make and take TTY calls as well as on how to take and make relay calls. We regularly schedule interpreter performances of everything in our theater season, and we provide sign language interpreter upon request for all other performances including performances in our youth and family series, school shows, millennium stage, which is nightly. Sheer madness, et cetera. Once again, our policy is to require two weeks'' advance notice to provide an interpreter but because of the relationships we have developed with the interpreting community during the four years I have been here, we will make every effort to provide interpreters and can sometimes accommodate a request on a very short notice. We also provide tactile interpreting for our patrons who are deaf, blind and cued speech for patrons who use it upon request. A few years ago following in the footsteps of several other theaters around the country we started providing open captioning. We treat these the same way we treat sign interpreted performances by scheduling some shows to have captioning and providing it upon request for those other performances that are not scheduled. We have identified those ushers who know sign language and asked them to work the interpreted performances and train the rest of the ushers and sales staff on basic communication techniques like writing things down and facing the patron. We have done extensive training with the sales service staff on accommodating patron whose are deaf or hard of hearing. Once again we have a free subscription, e-mail monthly, that we call the sign interpreted caption performance theater alert that goes out to over 600 e-mails to promote interpreted captioned performances at the Kennedy center and theaters around the metropolitan area. That is pretty much the list that I came up with of things that the Kennedy center considers to be basic accommodations and services. I''m going to wrap it up with a story about boy scouts. As you know the boy scout motto is to be prepared. And when the boy scout founder was asked what do you mean be prepared? He responded by saying, be prepared for any old thing. And I have to say that I think that the Kennedy center is an arts institution that has decided it will be prepared for any old thing that comes up.
Excellent. Thank you, Betty. All right. While we wait for the questions to line up there, when Betty and I were talking about the session, she said she didn''t want to bore people or seem like she was bragging about the Kennedy center with what they do because of the resources they have. But it is quite impressive that you do put the resources forward to do what you do, and in ensuring equal access for people with disabilities. Could you talk a little bit more about the descriptive performances you provide and where-what kind of training you had to get for your staff in order to provide that?
Audio description was started, well, there is a debate in the community as to whether it was started in California or started here in Washington, D.C. I''m aware of the D.C. History, which is that it started in 1981 at arena stage with Margaret Sandstill from the Washington ear. In Washington, D.C., the audio description at performing arts center has been provided by volunteers. It has always been provided through volunteers trained by the Washington ear. When the Kennedy center decided to go from a service that was scheduled to an upon-request service as well, we realized we were going to stress out the resources of the Washington ear and decided to train our own audio describers in-house. We asked them to come and do a weekend-long training with six staff and volunteers at the Kennedy center. And then that was a year ago. And since that time, we have done monthly trainings. We bring in people who are blind from the community. We watch videotapes and give each other feedback. We ask other trainers around the country to come and talk to us about providing audio description. And because of that, we are able to do, upon request, with very little notice, because I can just call a staff member and say, are you available tonight? We have a patron from out of town who is requesting the service. So one weekend of really intense training, and then ongoing training has been really important to making a quality service.
Excellent. All right. Good afternoon, go ahead.
Hi, peter. How are you?
I''m doing well.
I have a question for you. First of all, thank you for your time and being here. And we are actually out here. [ laughter ] Have you ever had anyone arrive and say they had an attendant aide show up with them and indicate the ADA requires you to allow that attendant in for free?
I''m going to take your question if you don''t mind and twist it a little bit, which is that I can''t say that we have had exactly the situation you have described show up. But we do have people who attend the theater routine by with personal care attendants and so we have developed a policy and procedures for handling that. Our policy at the Kennedy center is that every person who is in the theater must have a ticket. That is our policy. And the way we apply that to PCA''s, is that when a person has a PCA who is medically necessary and wants that person to be in the theater with them, they must have a ticket, and we provide them with a half-priced ticket. The other part of that is we also have people who have PCA''s who they don''t need in the theater with them. We provide them a ticket that allows them into the theater to get the patron comfortable, set up, and then the PCA waits in the lobby. Once the intermission starts, they go back into the theater. At the end of the performance, they go back into the theater. This is coming out of a philosophy based on something kind of simple. You know, if I''m a person and I go into a clothing store, and I ask if I can buy a dress, I can''t then ask for my PCA to have a dress for free. They benefit from the product. And my product is a show. And the thing I have to sell that person''s being able to see that show. So I don''t personally buy into the philosophy that a PCA has to be free. I don''t think there is anything in the law, and let me say this quick, I am not a lawyer. Okay? I''m not a lawyer. You should check this. But I don''t think anything that I have seen has ever supported the concept of allowing PCA''s in for free. I do think you need to have policies and procedures in place to handle the issue of a PCA.
Right. You are correct. There is nothing that requires that in your policy of providing half-priced tickets for medically necessary attendants, it goes above and beyond what Title III would require of you.
Thank you very much.
Thanks, Rick. One thing I want-Betty, I wanted to mention real quick before we bring up our next question is something you mentioned several times during your presentation, and even in responding to my first question, and that was volunteers. And you make extensive use of volunteers, and in-can you talk a little bit more about that? Because, you know, there are theaters that may not have the resources out there, but there are volunteers out in the community that can assist with a lot of providing effective communication.
I love my volunteers. There is no way that I would be able to do half of what I do without the use of the volunteers. Now, one thing we have to remember is that managing and coordinating volunteers is time-consuming. You have to have resources and energy to commit to that. Once you do, you multiply your efforts by however many volunteers you have. And I think that we have found here at the Kennedy center that with training and with the commitment that volunteers bring, they are very effective in helping to support us in providing accommodations. And we even find that we end up with a lot of volunteers who have disabilities themselves who want to give back to the community through their work here at the Kennedy center.
That is great.
Good afternoon. We had a question regarding how do you recommend setting up closed captioning in local movie theaters? That was a topic of discussion in our group. The lack of closed captioning in movie theaters.
Well, there are a lot of different ways that communities across the nation have approached convincing movie theaters to provide captioning. One is, you know, through the lawsuit way. If you don''t do this, we will sue you. And a lot of court cases have been bouncing around that have tested that approach. In Austin, Texas, now, there is an organization there, the local VSA arts Texas has actually gotten together with a movie chain in the area, and I like this approach much better. I''m a collaborator. I tend to want to coopt my enemies and get them to be collaborators in the process. Because I think we end up with better access when we do that. In Austin, Texas, the VSA arts organization working with one of the local theater chain made a commitment to fund-raising, about $7,000, towards purchasing the WGBH rear window system for the theater chains in Austin, and the theater management has committed to providing the other half of the funding. And that is going to get Austin, Texas, some very accessible movie theaters that will have not only captioning available for first-run films, but also will provide audio description for those first-run films as well. I think it is a hard sell. There is a lot of debate right now and the audio description listserv, it was set up to promote description, about how it is best to get things like captioning and audio description into movie theaters, DVDs as well. Nobody has come up with a really good solution. I think that the-that coopting your enemies and getting a collaboration going is an excellent way to do that. I don''t have a good answer to that question. Do you, peter?
The access board has some excellent technical assistance material on their website with regards to different captioning systems. But I think your idea of collaboration is excellent. As you say, getting your-you know, quote, unquote, enemies making them do what you are trying is effective. Can we have our next question, please?
I think we are on the line.
Yes, go ahead.
Betty, I''m in Colorado springs. I don''t have any questions. I have two tips. One is for the nervous speaker to a microphone, Arthur Godfrey says if you can imagine a favorite listener, put that picture in front of the microphone. If not, bring a picture of somebody you like to talk to and put them in front of the microphone. My other tip is printing in braille. One of the things we do here, we have a Colorado school for the blind that needs braille printers. We had a city who was always crabbing because they didn''t want to spend money for a braille printer just for the few times they would need braille information. We got the two together, and they have an arrangement where the city bought the printer and the printer stays at the school for the blind, or the blind organization, except when the city needs something braille, they get top priority. That is all I have. Thanks for being there. We appreciate you. I used to go to the Kennedy center for about ten years until I moved out of D.C.
That is great. I think that kind of collaboration where you can get government and nonprofit, or government education or education nonprofit working together, is an excellent way to approach providing accommodations. Everybody won in that situation. I was lucky. The Kennedy center had the braille software and equipment when I came on four years ago. But I know that I encourage other theaters in the Washington, D.C., area to call me when they need things brailled. And I will train their volunteers, and they are welcome to come over and use my equipment any time they want to make their materials accessible through braille.
Excellent. Go ahead, crystal, with our next question, please.
Thank you Peter, and Betty, for facilitating the training for us. I''m calling from anchorage, Alaska. We are in the infancy through our performing arts center up here of obligations, effective communication, the whole works. And I would like to ask, Betty, what exactly-what is your budget for the year, as a huge performing arts center, as a Kennedy center, you are such a large center, what does-what does your budget entail?
I''m not going to put specific dollars to it, because I will hear the-this big old round of boos going on. I admit right off the bat that I have the luxury of having an endowment that supports accessibility programs at the Kennedy center. My budget includes a lot more than just hiring sign language interpreters and paying for assistive listening equipment, it includes national programs, including an internship program we administer on the part of the national endowment for the arts. Can I do a brief plug here? At the end of September or October, beginning of October, please be contacting me, this is an awards program that the Kennedy center runs whereby we give out up to $15,000 to arts and cultural organizations to bring on an intern or a mentee with a disability. And that money is available. Last year we funded ten organizations. The year before we funded 18. I''m hoping we will be able to do the same thing this year. But-I will not tell you my overall budget. It wouldn''t be getting to the point that you need, which is how much do we spend on the actual accommodations? Honestly, to do all of the interpreting that we provide here at the Kennedy center, and please keep in mind, I have eight theaters, we have 3,000 events a year, and I may be called upon to provide a sign language interpreter or two or even three at any one of those events. And so my budget for sign language interpreters is usually around 20 or $30,000 a year. That is not going to be the amount of dollars that you might need to do an eight-show season for a regional repertory company.
Thank you very much. I don''t think that is very large at all. That is great.
I have worked many deals in my lifetime with the sign language interpreters in town.
Excellent. Thank you, Mona. Kudos to region 10 for their promotion of today''s session and getting participation from anchorage, Alaska. Can we have our next question, please?
Hi, this is Richard lane, the company manager and new facilities coordinator for ballet west. I''m participated as part of a group from salt lake city, and within this group, there are two other dance companies. And number two, because we are going on tour to Colorado springs this year, hello, Colorado springs, we have been in anchorage, Alaska. I know the Kennedy center presents dance. Have you found anything that is effective for dance?
Effective for making dance more accessible to people with disabilities?
Like captioning, Betty. This is Mary ann.
Hi, Mary ann. Captioning for dance, I would do it if there is a component of the dance that is oral. And in other words I got a request last year to do a ballet of Cinderella that a local ballet company bass doing. I called the ballet company and I grilled them on what the music was and whether there was singing, lyrics, because without the lyrics or the singing, captioning isn''t providing anything. You can''t caption something that doesn''t have words. You can''t sign language interpret something that doesn''t have words. So if we are doing a dance where it involves lyrics, or it has a component worked into it that has a poem that is read, I provide interpreting or captioning.
Mary Ann, and the group in salt lake city, were you talking about audio description of the-
Probably. All three companies do student performances and do performance, special performances for impaired people. It is really only an issue I would guess if they are visually impaired, because I understand that audio-audible impaired people can still sense the music and see the movement. So it really only has to do with those visually impaired. There is another question from the table.
That is different than captioning or interpreting. Again, if it is a school of performance, there is a teaching component to it, like the dancers stop in the middle of a performance and explain or talk about what they are doing. I would be more than happy to provide interpreters or hard of hearing. For patrons who are blind. Audio description would work nicely for that. There are a lot of describers who enjoy doing dance. There is a lot of debate in the audio description world over what type of terminology is appropriate for use in dance, how technical do you get? Do you use technical terms? Will the blind community understand those terms? So if you have the ability to audio-describe a dance performance, I would encourage that.
Excellent. Let us go ahead and take the last question-your last question from salt lake city. Nope, they are down. Okay. They can get back in the queue. But providing audio description for something like that, Betty, obviously, your describers would need to have some advance to work on terminology and-before being able to provide that description.
You always want to have a rehearsal period whenever you have that ability. We don''t take actors and hand them a script and tell them to come back in 24 hours and perform a show. So we don''t do that with our audio describers or sign language interpreters or with our captioners. We want them to rehearse and practice and support the performance. So, yes, definitely you want to have your describers rehearsed for the show they will be describing.
Good. Good. Crystal, our next question, please.
Hi, Betty. It is Allan. Great to hear your voice again. Even if I can''t see you. Thank you for the wonderful conference a couple weeks ago. I appreciate it. My question is concerning the curb-to-seat service you provide, really simply, how do they access that service? Is that also at an advance registration or request or is it something that you just-your doormen just watch for?
The curb-to-seat service is available an hour before every performance at the Kennedy center. It is not something that a patron has to request in advance. Or arrange for in advance. We just staff the doormen in such a way that there is always one or two, depending on how many performances are going on in the building, who are there to help get people from the curb to their seat. We try to make all of our accommodations and accessibility services whenever possible invisible. And by that I don''t mean that we hide them, or are ashamed of them. I mean they should just be there at all times. That is equitable. I can walk to the theater, I can get into the building, I can find my way to my seat. A patron blind or has low vision, a patron using a wheelchair that is borrowed from us may not have the ability to get from point A to point B. We want to make the accommodation invisible always there, always available, without having that patron have to make extra phone calls to arrange it.
Great. I have a question as well.
This is Johnny from the independent living center. I would like to know how have you resolved issues between artistic sensibilities and accommodations that may-the performers or directors may find imposing upon their creativity.
You guys like to ask the tough ones, don''t you and put me on the spot. I''m a theater person at heart. I wanted to be in the theaters ever since I was 5 years old. I love theater and I love the product. And I understand-I understand it when people, directors, actors, are resistant to accessibility and accommodations. Especially those that are visible. For example, audio description really is an invisible service. The director, the actor really never even knows it is going on. Sign language interpreting and captioning are very visible. There is no way we can hide those or pretend they are not there. The way we resolve that issue is we do it through contract. Basically, in every contract with every artist or producing company that comes through the Kennedy center or that rents space in the Kennedy center, there is this really in obtrusive paragraph that most of them don''t read, and then they are very surprised when I invoke it that basically says that if you are going to do anything in the Kennedy center, you agree to comply with all federal laws and legislation that apply to the Kennedy center. And so when I do get an artist or a producer or company who says, no, we don''t want that sign language interpreter, first I go down there and I try to schmooze them and talk to them and explain how important it is, and how we have built this relationship with our community and there will be people in the audience who are just as eager to see their product as everybody else and they need the interpreter to access it. But if I''m pushed to the wall, I smile a lot and say, it is in your contract.
Excellent. Thanks for your question, gentlemen. Crystal, go ahead and take our next question, please.
This is Sandy in New Heritage Theater company in Boise, Idaho. We are building a new theater complex and my question for you is as we develop this building and we are dealing with the issues, if we have a strong policy of total accessibility. And my question refers to the distinctions and the differences between the captioned performance and sign language interpretive performances. If we are considering putting captioning devices in the theater, and whether or not to deal with that expense, up-front, how do you feel that the two serve the community and do you find yourself having to use both, or what are the distinctions between those that you run into?
This is-this is a question where I really strongly recommend that you get to your community and get to them immediately.
We do have an accessibility that we put together. I was wondering from a building standpoint.
Well, sign language interpreting, there are three things we do primarily for our deaf and hard of hearing community and patrons. One is assistive listening devices. Those serve people who probably have mild-to-moderate hearing losses very well. Okay? And then we do sign language interpreting. Which serves the part of the deaf and hard of hearing community that is culturally deaf, that uses American sign language as a first language. But for all of these years, we have kind of forgot the middle. Those people that have a more severe hearing loss that are not helped through the assistive listening devices who are not culturally deaf. They weren''t raised with American sign language. They may have lost their hearing later on in life. They may have been raised oral. Captioning serves that middle community. And so there are two answers to the question. One is that we do all three of them because we see the need as being three distinct needs. Sign language interpreting doesn''t help the person with the mild hearing loss or the person in the middle who doesn''t know sign language, assistive listening devices don''t help those with a severe hearing loss or considers themselves deaf. Captioning is there in the middle. From an institutional perspective, the Kennedy center is committed to providing all three things. We can afford to do that. I think that when you are in a smaller community or you may be looking at issues of financing, both of these things, you are going to have to start making some tough decisions, getting it down in writing how you reach those decisions, document the path you are taking. And talk to-and again get your community involved. Because it is-they are not the same. One does not replace the other. And so when-if you are looking at that, you are looking at possibly cutting out a portion of the deaf and hard of hearing community. From having access. If you do decide something like we are only going to provide sign language interpreters or only provide captioning, I would have a policy in place whereby you state that you will provide interpreters if you are requested to provide them.
Great, thank you.
Thanks for the excellent question. That is a great distinction you made there, Betty, between captioning and the sign language interpreters, because as you know the law says effective communication and gives examples. It doesn''t say what you have to provide. Ultimately the entity has the call on what auxiliary service they will provide. It must be effective. So choosing one over the other, if it is not effective for that particular person, you know, doesn''t meet the requirements. Excellent. Crystal, can we have our next question?
I''m John Larkin, the house manager in Bloomington. I have a problem, over the last year I have noticed that for a large section in our lower orchestra seating area, we have approximately 3200 seats in our hall. We have a whole bunch of seats that are wheelchair accessible that get sold and used, but what I noticed happening at the end of the event is all the patrons in the wheelchairs are the last to leave. The show gets over, the lights come up. Everybody that have their perfect use of their limbs get up and head for the doors and the folks using the wheelchairs get stuck. So I put a policy in place that I use all my volunteers and managers. When the show is done, we block appropriate aisles and clear the center aisle and then each wheelchair patron gets a one-person, one-on-one escort out into the foyer so they are not stuck till the end of the show. It has caused a great deal-it has made waves with patrons, donors and the building-and with the other employees of the building. I was wondering how you would handle that. We have mainly one large accessibility ramp into the seating area. There are different ways in and out, but it is the one main ramp that most patrons prefer to use. It is the easiest way back into the concession and restrooms. It is the easiest way back to parking. How would you handle that?
Well, a couple different ways. One, I admire and respect your decision, and I do hope you got some of your patrons who are wheelchair users involved in helping you reach that decision. Two, accessibility means an equal access. It means that the person with the disability not only has a right to equally access the theater but they have the right to be equally inconvenienced. And a lot of us get stuck at the end of a really long line as we are waiting to get out of the theater because when we come in together, we trickle in over a half hour, hour period of time. When we leave, everybody is trying to leave in two minutes. So in general, we-I think you have-you are dealing with two issues, one is are you really inconveniencing the patron who is a wheelchair user by their having to wait to get out? In other words, do other people also wait to get out? And then the second one is maybe there is some issues why a person with a disability may want to get out earlier. Their disability may mean that they have to use the bathroom more frequently than I do. And so being stuck at the end of a long line would be a barrier to their participation. You might want to work that out. So I would be reluctant to block accesses, exit aisles for emergency evacuation purposes, but I would be reluctant to assume that the person who is a wheelchair user needs that level of accommodation that you are providing. I would make it be a one-on-one case. That is what we do here with our ushers. When we have a person who is a-wheelchair user escorted into the theater by an usher, that usher checks back with them at intermission and at the end of the show to ask if they want to have an escort out as well. And that leaves the decision up to the individual patron.
All right, thank you.
You are welcome, Jack. Our next question, please.
Hello, this is Peg in Cincinnati for Marcy today. And we have in Cincinnati a number of grand older buildings as well as some new ones where we enjoy the arts. And there are some circumstances where lower-priced seating may block access to such things as open captioning or sign language interpretation. We wondered how you handle that at the Kennedy center or if you do. And if we have enough time, we have an usher question after this.
I''m going to ask you to clarify that question. Are you-you are talking about a discounted ticket?
Yes, we are talking about the fact that the lower-priced seats that most patrons have access to may not work for a person who needs open captioning. How do you handle that?
Okay, I understand now. In general, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require me as a theater to discount my tickets. But a lot of theaters have discount ticket programs. And they develop the discount ticket program for a couple different reasons. One is that they are compensating for lack of choice in an older theater, if you can only sit in the back row, that you don''t have an option to sit in the front or the middle or the sides or the balcony. I may decide to have a discounted ticket program to compensate that individual for lack of choice. Okay? The same thing applies in a situation where you are working with captioning and sign language interpreting. For the person to be able to access the captioning and the interpreting, they may have to sit in a particular area. And yes, frequently that area is in the most expensive seats in the theater, because frequently that area is down front orchestra level. And in that case, you may want to decide to have a policy in place that says, because the deaf individual or the hard of hearing individual doesn''t have access to choice, they can''t choose to sit any place else in the theater, they have to sit in this one area, because of that, our policy is to make those tickets be half-price or make those tickets be the same price as the lowest price ticket in the theater. The Kennedy center''s policy is to do just that. When we have interpreted or captioned performances where the deaf patron must sit in a specific area in order to access the interpreting and the captioning, we discount those tickets to a half price, which is usually about the same price as the lowest-price ticket in the house. But in general, I wouldn''t leap at discounted ticket programs. For example, in the concert hall here at the Kennedy center, we used to discount tickets for wheelchair users because there was only one place in the theater where they could sit. Once the concert hall was renovated, we had dispersed an integrated wheelchair accessible theater throughout the theater and on price levels and on all levels of the theater. We discontinued the discounted ticket program in that theater.
That would make sense to us. We were concerned about the situation that you just described when there is no choice.
When there is no choice, again, the law, as I understand it, is-doesn''t force you to discount your ticket. But I would recommend discounting tickets in that situation, because you are compensating for lack of choice. You really aren''t up to the requirement of the law that talks about dispersed and integrated seating.
Right. We will get to your second question in one second here. And Betty, again, a theme that I keep hearing you say is policy development and having a policy in place to deal with different requests, different situations, and it is, you know, somewhat of a safeguard for the entity to demonstrate that they put some time and effort into-into a particular situation and how they are going to deal with it, rather than having an ad hoc policy.
Right. I don''t believe in giving discount tickets as a charity out of pity. There are situations where offering a discounted ticket makes sense because that patron doesn''t have the degree of choice as other patrons.
Makes a lot of sense to us here.
Excellent go ahead with your usher question. If you have that.
The second question, we noticed that you have said very early on, Betty, that your ushers, bring and give the assistive listening equipment to patrons. Most of the arrangements that we are familiar with involve patrons having to go to a window or a booth and acquire them there. But we were really interested in the arrangement that you described. Can you talk a little bit more about how you manage that?
Sure. I don''t want to misstate it. We actually do provide assistive listening devices distribution in two different ways. In our larger theaters, which are the three theaters on the main level, we do ask the patrons to go to a central distribution point, which is in each of the halls closest to each of the theaters. So patron on their way into the theater will stop at a desk and they get their assist listening device there at that desk. However, we have four smaller spaces for smaller theaters. In those theaters, we found it almost impossible to identify a central distribution point, because the theaters are scattered all over the building. And they were not very close to any of the main distribution points on the main level, so what we started to do was to have the ushers, each night, one or two of the ushers in the theater, are designated as access ushers, and they are responsible for stopping and picking up equipment, the assistive listening devices, before they go up to their assignment. They usually grab five to ten units, so if you have two people and they each five to ten units, you have between ten and 20 units in a theater that seats 300 to 400 people, so that is a lot. And they shove them in their coat pockets which thank goodness are really big. And when a patron requests an assistive listening device, they hand it out out of their pocket.
Thank you very much.
All right. Crystal, can we have the next question, please?
Yes, hi. We are wondering, do you have alternative seating, for instance, chairs with no a.m., double-sized chairs?
Boy, our patrons would wish we had that. You know, like the airlines, theater seats seem to be getting narrower and narrower. What we do provide are chairs with no a.m. on them. And those usually do accommodate our patrons who are larger. So the answer to the question is yes, we do provide chairs that have no a.m.. I haven''t ever measured them. I couldn''t swear to you they are a few inches wider than the regular theater chair.
Okay, thank you. Could we ask another quick question?
Okay, if the patron is deaf, do you have any, like, general information on what is the best seating for that person, stage left, stage right?
You have to be-I''m going to ask you to be more specific in the question. Deaf and they are using sign language interpreters or using captioning or assistive listening devices or no equipment at all?
Sign language interpreter.
There isn''t really a best side. What you are trying to do when you decide where to position your sign language interpreters is to select the place in the theater where the interpreter can be seen at the same time that the stage is seen without the deaf patron having to ping-pong back and forth. Between the interpreter and the stage. So I face a lot of times with shows coming in from the outside, the situation where I will put the interpreter where we normally put our interpreters, which is in our larger theater, they have four aisles, two side aisles against a wall. And then two center aisles, creating three distinct seating areas in the orchestra. We put the interpreter in the center aisle at the bottom of the center aisle with their back up against the stage. And the companies that come in will frequently say, oh, no, the interpreter can''t be there, they have to be over there in the corner, at the bottom of the aisle against the wall. And again, I smile really sweetly and say, no, this is where the interpreters go. This is where we put them at the Kennedy center because we have a commitment to our deaf audience they will be able to see the interpreter and the stage clearly and at the same time. But in terms of left, right, center, it is going to vary depending on the type of set. Sometimes we get interpreter on stage because there is no place for them in the audience. Sometimes on stage is the best place for them. Sometimes a little bit more left or right is better, for sheer madness we tend to put them almost center. But we know that in advance when we are selling the tickets. The commitment is to our deaf audience they will have the ability to have effective communication and see the stage at the same time.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you. Our next question, please? Go ahead, Cheryl. Cheryl? I guess Cheryl changed her mind. Betty, could you talk just a little bit about your start at the Kennedy center when you first arrived there, what-what general advice could you provide to someone just stepping into a position similar to yours? What are the first things they need to do?
They have to be perky. I''m telling you, I think that one of the reasons why I was able to be as successful as I am here at the Kennedy center is that I go in and I am friendly. I take the time to educate people. I am never, never too busy to stop and talk to other staff members. And they bring me a lot of their questions and issues now. Sometimes not even related to the Kennedy center. I get frequent questions about my mother is losing her vision, she loves to play cards, where can we get large print playing cards. I have an aunt who is visiting who is a wheelchair visitor, which monuments in D.C. are accessible? And I don''t mean for that to sound trite. I think the relationship-building we need to do when we are in charge of accessibility is the most important part of our job, because if you can educate people and get them on your side, coopt them, you will get a lot further. The other thing that is really helpful is you have to have the support of upper management. Because without the support of my boss, who is the senior vice president of the Kennedy center, and the president of the Kennedy center, you can''t get anywhere. It is like running your head up against a brick wall. So that is really the first thing that I would recommend people do when they come in, is advocate for accessibility, but advocating from within an institution is very different than the kind of advocating you do when you are outside of an institution looking in.
Sure. Sure. Crystal, did we have any more questions from the audience?
Hi, Betty, I''m from Bloomington, Indiana, back again. One-you know, we offer audio description for Broadway shows. One problem I had in the past is when we get a request for audio description, our describers, nine times out of ten want me to track down some kind of transcript or video or something for them to preview before they come do the show so they haven''t done it cold. Especially for the shows we bring in that aren''t mainstream that maybe they haven''t seen before. I have been having a really hard time tracking down that stuff. With a lot of Broadway shows with copyright laws, they can''t have video circulating. There is no script except when the show gets to your building. Do you have advice on how I could track down that preview information for the describers better than I do?
One is again go back to your contracts and make sure that from the get-go in every one of your contracts it specifies that the producing company will provide you with those things. Now, you may not win on the videotape. You should be able to get a copy of a script. Because there are issues of union and equity and that is one of those battles that I just decided I couldn''t fight. I didn''t think I would win it. I haven''t tried to fight it. However, there may be other arts organizations that have those resources, and one thing I would recommend is that you look up audio description international on the internet. And they are-their listserv can be very verbose. They get passionate about a lot of issues. They are doing audio description across the nation. They may have done the show before it is coming to you. They may have materials they can loan you. That is one way of going about it. One way is to debt it into the contract so the company has to provide it contractually. Two is to find the other audio describers that are seen the show or the theaters that had the show before you get it, see if they can loan you the resources.
All right, thank you very much.
Thanks, John. Betty, how important is it for someone in a smaller theater that may not get requests for accommodations all the time to have-to at least have a resource list of where to go when they handle-when they get those requests?
That is really important. The-you know, the law-ignorance of the law is not an excuse. And so the one thing I find very frustrating is when I get a call from a theater and they say, oh, my heavens, well got a request for a sign language interpreter and what do we do? And they want it for tomorrow. I usually try to get them in touch with interpreters and encourage them right then and there to have a policy, you don''t have to provide sign language interpreters for every show, every performance, every production. You should have a policy in place that says if we get a request for a sign language interpreter for audio description, for any of these other effective communication and auxiliary aids for braille, you should have a policy in place that says should we get this request, we are happy to do that, you know, within the period of time that we have researched. Don''t make the time frame up. Okay? In other words, oh, I think four weeks is enough time. You know, you need to say I called the interpreting agencies in my area and they told us with two weeks'' notice they could provide us with a sign language interpreter. And then to have those resources at your fingertips are great. If you have the time as a small theater to develop, you know, a list of sign language interpreters, audio describers, places you can get braille, that can help you with your large print, that is great. Chances are you don''t have the resources. Better off, I think, are to develop people. In other words, know who to call. I know there is self-help for the hard of hearing in my area. I will call them. When an issue comes up that I need to provide an accommodation for somebody who is hard of hearing. So I think the policy is really important. And then I think having a couple good resources at your fingertips, like your independent living center, they are great resources.
Sure. Your regional ADA centers?
The DBTAC. I forgot the DBTACs. I don''t think of them because they are regional. They cover more than just your local facility. I can call my mayor''s committee and they know the real local stuff.
The policy.. the policy.. the policy, you develop the policy and someone may leave that theater company, but the policy stays behind. And the person that comes in has those, you know, those contacts where to go.
It is important to have institutional knowledge. When I came here in 1999, the person who had been the accessibility manager had actually left in 1998. In that time, between her being there and my coming in, which was about a six-month, eight-month period of time, all her files got erased, all her materials got thrown away. And the institution lost this wealth of knowledge. So policies, written procedures, things like that, or a file, a book or something that says, you know, accommodations and access are really important. You don''t want to lose that because one person leaves.
Sure. Crystal, do we have a-any more questions from the audience?
Hi. We have a question from our Springfield location.
Okay. Go ahead.
Hi, this is Marilyn Selby with the city''s department of community relations. I tried to contact somebody from our local auditorium. No one was able to come out there. There is a follow-up to the discussion we were having about discount tickets. We have a local auditorium theater that seats about 2,000 people, and while there is very limited integrated seating, so my question would be if somebody who needed-there is no integrated-there is no seating for people with disabilities in the balcony. So it is on the main floor, and on the mezzanine. If somebody needed a ticket in the higher-price range, because of disability, how would that go for the person who was accompanying that person, the partner, the spouse, the friend?
That is a good question. You know, when we provide dispersed and integrated seating and when we provide wheelchair accessibility locations, the law is specific and says we have to provide a companion seat immediately adjacent to that wheelchair location. And in general, I would strongly recommend that the wheelchair location of the companion seat be the same price. In other words, if you are going to discount the wheelchair location you discount the companion seat. Now, that always brings up the question about what about if you are coming with your family? I have a friend who is a wheelchair user, she comes to the theater with her husband and son and her son''s friend. All of a sudden you have a party of four, do I discount all four seats? That is going to become a decision that you make on a case-by-case basis or theater by theater basis. The law does not require me to discount a ticket, but it does require me to provide dispersed and integrated seating. If I cannot do that I may choose to discount tickets as compensation for the lack of the integrated and dispersed seating. At the Kennedy center, our policy is generally to sell the companion seat at the same price as the wheelchair location. And if we have a party that is larger than two, and intics say that on average people go to the theater in parties of 2.5 individuals. I have never figured out where that half an individual comes from, but nonetheless, it indicates that on average, there are people coming in groups larger than two. And in that case at the Kennedy center we make every effort to seat the entire party in the same area and adjacent to each other. If we can''t do that, we make every effort to seat them as close as possible. But if we are discounting tickets which we don''t always do, but if we are in a theater that hasn''t been renovated and providing a discounted wheelchair location, I would discount the wheelchair location and the companion seat. But the other members of the party I would sell at full price.
That is a decision and a policy of the Kennedy center. You can''t pick up policies from one theater and blindly apply them to every other institution, because theaters are all different. And the policies the Kennedy center developed are very specific to our situation. So it is a good idea to do what you are doing now, which is asking what the Kennedy center''s policy is. You have to think through whether that policies works within your institution and within the limits and the givings of your situation.
All right, as you said, Betty, there is no specific DOJ guidance to all pricing levels, but it-reiterating the most important thing is to have a policy in place to demonstrate as a theater why you are charging a particular price for a seating location, when the department of justice doesn''t require if the only accessible seating is located in the most expensive section you provide that seat for the lowest price. But there should be some thought process put in the policy in place of how you arrived at the particular price that you as a theater are using.
In general, I mean, I don''t speak for the department of justice, only they can speak for themselves, and they always say it depends. But my general impression has been from my conversations with people at the department of justice, and from the various different mediations and letters of agreement they made with the other entertainment centers that they strongly favor discounted ticket if you aren''t able to provide that dispersed integrated seating. In other words, their definition of dispersed and integrated, is it dispersed and integrated in every price range? So I would think through very carefully what your specific situation is. If you really are only able to provide wheelchair locations in your most expensive seating area I would encourage you to consider a discount.
Thanks for the question. Crystal, do we have another question?
My question has to do with your ticketing policy. Whether you verify it all whether somebody has a disability or not. We have a couple of arenas in Connecticut that require handicapped seat purchasers to purchase them in person to assure they have a disability. And we also have a couple of arenas that don''t do any quality control. And much of the handicapped seating is occupied by non-wheelchair users or mobility-impaired individuals. What is your policy regarding this?
First I have to give you my philosophy. We are shooting for equal access, and so I''m not asked if I''m able-bodied when I walk in the door. I shouldn''t ask people if they have a disability. On the other hand, we try really hard to ensure that the people who need an accommodation are the ones who are actually getting it. If you have a limited number of wheelchair locations, yes, I want to try to do something that ensures that those wheelchair users get access to those seats. Paralyzed veterans of America has some principles of-for seating policy they designed for stadiums. In general, they support allowing the stadium to ask the person, you know, what the need is. And to prove a disability in order to get the wheelchair location. But I would say that requiring someone to come down in person to show the disability might be considered sort of a gray area. Because as a person who doesn''t use a wheelchair, I can order my tickets through the internet and over the phone. There is an equitability issue there. The theaters who do those policies are trying their best to ensure the wheelchair user gets what they need and the people who are not wheelchair users don''t end up in the wheelchair locations but I don''t approve of that policy. I would think of a better way to do it. The way the Kennedy center does seating is when someone calls up and says to us, you know, I need a wheelchair location, we say, we don''t talk about the disability, we talk about the need. Oh, do you need a wheelchair location? Will the patron be transferring from their wheelchair or not? So we never ask what the disability is. We ask the need. Will they transfer or not. It gives us a lot of information. They will be transferring? You don''t need necessarily wheelchair accessibility location, you need a location that someone using a wheelchair can get to without having to do seats. Our policy is not to ask people what their disability is or to prove a disability in order to use an accommodation, but it is to ask questions about what people need. We do it in such a way that we make it clear to our patrons what we are trying to do is ensure they get what they need and that we are providing them with good customer service. But I do know that in larger stadiums and arenas this whole issue of whether you can ask for proof of disability has come up over and over again. There isn''t clear guidance from the Department of Justice, PVA has supported the-sort of the rights of the stadiums to ask for proof of disability. I think it has to be reasonable.
Yeah, the stadium that requires you buy them in person is about 35 minutes out of the closest major city. So it is not a place that is easily accessible for people with disabilities.
I think what you are describing is that there-they are an institution that needs some educating. I think that making you come down and buy the tickets in person is not equal access. Because other people can buy their tickets other ways. And that they may be able to institute other ways of protecting those seats for the users who really need them. One way that stadiums do this is they leave the seat out of that space. The wheelchair location. If you are not a wheelchair user, then there is no seat in that space and the ushers are instructed to re-seat people. That is one way. Again, looking at issues of need, do you need that? Or if you are going to ask for proof of disability, then I would certainly ask for-I wouldn''t-I would try to figure out different ways that someone can prove their disability to move.
Right. Before entities go about asking for proof, you know, maybe-it may be advisable to request a clarification or some type of interpretation from the Department of Justice before, you know, requiring people to demonstrate or prove a disability. When requesting accessible seating.
Yeah, it is a catch 22, because, peter, I think it is, for the theaters and stadiums. We are trying to do the right thing ensure is patrons with disabilities get the accommodations that are available to them. And at the same time, we don''t have any real way of ensuring that the person has a disability. We just have to take them a faith. At the Kennedy center we take people on faith to tell the truth. If they say they have a disability, they have got it, we will provide the accommodation. But then people aren''t usually scamming us to get tickets to see the opera. Whereas people may be scamming to get tickets to see kiss. Do you know, or some big concert venue. I think that this is a situation where the local advocacy group and the venues need to really work together. To come up with good policies and ways to handle it.
Absolutely. Crystal, do we have one more question we can sneak in before the bottom of the hour?
This is Susan Domer from the Indiana university, Purdue University in fort Wayne. Last year, we made the commitment to be as accessible as possible. And we are thrilled with what we have put into place. Now we need some suggestions on how we can further market those services, and advertise those services in our community. We have tried several different options. And I think we are looking for any other information you can give us. We know that sometimes people with disabilities are waiting to see if the program is successful on a long-term and I''m wondering what your opinions are about that. Then we have another question.
In terms of marketing, I think that is the thing that is the hardest for most theaters so face. First off, one, I would start to broaden your definition of who is a person with a disability. Because you probably actually do have a lot of people with disabilities using your services and coming to your theaters. You just don''t consider them to be the traditional person with-who is using a wheelchair or the person with the guide dog. You may have a lot of people with mobility impairments who are visual, they are taking advantage of the services. In terms of marketing, there is two things you need to do. You need to get it into everything that you produce. That is aimed at the general market. If you are doing advertising in the newspaper, there needs to be a line in there that says something like we are accessible. We want you. In your brochures, you have to have a statement that says, we are accessible, we want you. And then you want to do targeted marketing where you go to the disability community. This is the hard part. It takes a long time to win the confidence of people with disabilities is my experience. Too many times they have had things offered to them and it is yanked back or somebody well-intentioned comes and says, we have done these wonderful things for you. When they go to experience it, the experience is bad. You have to have patience and you have to keep going there and going there and going there and I tell you the one thing I found is that people trust people more than they trust an ad. And so I take every opportunity I can get to go and talk to every group that asks me.
We also liked your suggestion about the e-mail and the listserv, that is what we are going to try to do is get individual addresses of people who have an interest in these services.
Email is great. It is effective with the deaf and hard of hearing community. I can give you an example. We did an interpretive performance of a stand-up comedian two years ago before I had started the e-mail list serves. The e-mail broadcasts. And I sold maybe five, six seats. We did another stand-up comedian this year, I was doing the e-mail broadcasts, I put it in for three months and I sold out all 20 ever my seats in my deaf section. I think e-mail is very effective.
We also had a question in regard to service animals, and the type of accommodations-actually I will hand the phone to Lois.
Hello. My question has to do with service animals. Do you see patrons with service animals separate from other patrons? In case somebody has allergy to dogs and there is a big dog sitting at their feet?
No, we don''t. Patrons with service animals can sit anywhere in the theater. If there is a patron sitting close to them that has a fear or an allergy we relocate that patron.
Excellent. Thanks for your question, Lois. And Betty, I don''t know that the you are telling the truth when you said you were nervous at the beginning. You provided us with some excellent information and excellent presentation, and we truly appreciate the time and effort you have given us tonight. I have been provided some excellent information. And to all of you listening to us again, the 10 regional ADA centers who collaborate to provide you the ada distance learning series truly appreciate your commitment and your attendance for these distance learning sessions. I would like to especially thank Indiana for their participation. The state of. Please contact your ADA center to get more information about the September 16th session. "On best practices in accessible electronic and information technology policy". Please stay tuned to your regional ADA center to find out information about the 2003/2004 ADA distance learning series which will kick off in October. And once again, thank you to all of you for participating. And have a nice afternoon.