Access to Cultural Programs and the Arts: Serving Patrons with Disabilities

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Join us as representatives from Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC) discuss efforts to ensure that patrons with disabilities have the opportunity to access the rich and diverse cultural programs and arts available in the Chicago area. Speakers will address how cultural organizations can best include and welcome all visitors, including visitors who are blind or have low vision, visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, visitors with mobility disabilities, visitors with cognitive disabilities, and visitors with sensory differences.

Speakers URL:


Peter Berg

Good afternoon and good morning to all of you. Thank you for joining us for our December session, access to cultural programs and arts, serving patrons with disabilities. We are pleased that you are able to join us for the ADA audio conference series. The ADA audio conference series is a program of the ADA National Network which is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administration on community living, National Institute on Disability independent living and rehabilitation research.

You can always reach your regional ADA center by calling 800-949-4232. Or by visiting

We are glad that all of you are able to join us today. We have a great session, great topic, and most importantly, we have great speakers who have benefited us and provided us with their time and expertise. We have Christena Gunther, who is the founder and co-chair of the Chicago cultural accessibility consortium, we have Jason Harrington, who is the education outreach imaginer for the Shakespeare Theater in Chicago -- manager. And Lynn Walsh, the manager and accessibility inclusion of inclusion with the Shedd Aquarium also here in Chicago.

Following our presenters' portion today we will have a opportunity for all of you who are participating on telephone or in the webinar room to ask a question. At this time, I will turn it over to Christena Gunther.


Hi, thank you, Peter. Thanks so much for having us. I'm really excited to be here today. My name is Christena Gunther, and my E-mail address is cgunther @ Chicago cultural I'm the director of education' Evanston art center and also the founder and co-chair of CCAC which is a long name for Chicago cultural accessibility consortium. I have about 20 minutes with you guys, and a lot to cover. But the key is I wanted you to have my E-mail address because I definitely want to be available if you have questions afterwards. Please feel free to reach out. Some key take-aways for today, we are on slide 10, is accessibility in cultural organizations is achievable through incremental change. It's easy to feel daunted when you hear all the different amazing programs and innovative ideas that are being done in different places, but I'd love for key take away for you to be that it's one step at a time, that none of these organizations did this all overnight, and to remember that you are part of a greater community. Another thing I'd like you to remember is accessibility is a microcos a.m. for good hospitality. A lot of things we talk about when we talk about cultural accessibility can be applied to when we talk about our customer service or talking about hospitality. A lot of times, I encounter people who once they have thought about accessibility and thought about people with disabilities, have been able to generalize it and apply it in all aspects of customer service. 2 the final point is we are stronger together. We will talk about the Chicago accessibility consortium CCAC and how we are sharing ideas, resources and enthusiasm. Through that we are able to get more done. With anything, the more that you use teamwork and are partnering with colleagues, you are going to be more successful and effective in the long run.

Before we get started, it would be useful to talk about definitions of terms and help give context. I know there is people from different types of organizations here, and so one of the things I want to share is about the World Health Organization definition for disability, which I find to be a really useful definition and one that CCAC takes to heart. The World Health Organization definition of disability sees disability as a contextual variable. Really, one that changes over time, and in relation to circumstances. It is less about the individual and more about how we as a society can create or remove barriers, so thinking about for instance a wheelchair user coming to a museum, if we have stairs that lead up to that museum, that person can't enter the museum if there is a wheelchair and there is just stairs. We as a museum put the stairs there, it's on the institution and society as a whole. That is a guiding force in CCAC and what we will talk about today as well.

More context, how many people are there with disabilities? In America, one in five people identify as having some sort of disability, and we believe that to be a even greater than what people are identifying. A lot of disabilities can be age related, in the State of Illinois where we are located 37 percent of seniors 65 and older have some sort of disability, which could affect mobility and dexterity, hearing loss, vision loss, Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, and disability is the largest minority group in the United States. We are talking one in five people like 20 percent of the population, that is a lot of people. That is helpful context as well. I personally have a personal connection with disability, my brother has Down Syndrome, and while I don't identify myself as having a disability, I am part of a family that includes a person with a disability. If there was discrimination done against my brother, that would be something I would take personally and seriously. When I see organizations that are welcoming of people with disabilities, even if it doesn't directly affect me, I'm more likely to visit that institution and support it because I'm affected by disability too.

Finally another important thing to remember is that many disabilities are invisible. Sometimes we think of a wheelchair user or a person who is blind using a white cane, but there are many different types of disabilities, and some that we can't see when we first look or meet somebody.

Going to the next slide, on page 13, why accessibility matters. I know that Jason and Lynn who are going to be speaking after me also definitely take these to heart. Accessibility and cultural institutions definitely matters, especially because I believe all cultural and arts organizations are committed to creating a positive experience for all visitors. If you look in different nonprofit arts organizations' missions, you will find serving all visitors some degree mention of inclusion or reaching out to everybody. This is already baked into most of the institutions' mission statements. We want to make sure that that is actually true and we are living up to the mission that we have created. I believe that everyone has the right to participate fully in the cultural life of their community. I don't want to create barriers or prevent people from taking a part of the arts or culture that my organization provides. It's a good business, it represents? Estimates say $200 billion in discretionary spending by people with disabilities. It also is financially smart to welcome everybody. Then it's the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act in section 504 of the 1973 Rehab Act all apply to our organizations today. That is something that is really important, and we are grateful for the ADA and for this legislation, but it's important also that I put this last on the list, because the law is usually the last reason that I'm doing something when it comes to accessibility and inclusion, because I believe that everyone has the right to be included and that is the top priority. It's not a legal obligation as much as I think it's a civil right for people.

We do definitely in CCAC talk about the law, but that is not going to be our main focus. Our main focus is creating welcoming environments for everybody.

One of the things that I find useful as well when we are talking about accessibility is looking at what people need in order to participate or be a part of the cultural community, and come to our organizations. slide 14 has an image of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Many of you probably remember this from studying this in high school or college. But this is a baseline for thinking about how people come to spaces, thinking about physiological needs, the need for air, food or water, that is at the bottom of the pyramid. That is something that you need to have in place in order to get to the next step which is safety, so everyone needs to feel safe, have shelter, have stability. The next on the pyramid is social, so the need for love, the longing, inclusion, being part of something, that is also important. Once you have that in place, that allows for the need for self-esteem, for power, control and recognition. Finally at the top of the pyramid is self actualization, the need for development, for creativity and for growth.

I have applied Maslow's hierarchy of needs to looking at accessibility and hospitality. slide 15 shows different things that I've talked about, physiological, safety, social, etcetera, talks about but thinking about it in the context of accessibility and inclusion. Physiological needs would be having the ability to access the space, being able to physically enter the space, when we talked about the steps at the museum, is there a ramp, is there a elevator, is the bathroom accessible. Is the restaurant accessible. All these different pieces need to be in place. Another key piece to be in place is to make sure safety, thinking about emergency planning and communication and how that is taking all visitors including visitors with disabilities into accounts.

Above that is the social, creating a welcoming environment. We want you to be here. When I talked about the law earlier, some people just use the term ADA compliant and say like a accessible door would be a ADA door. I think that is an example personally of that not being a welcoming place, that is just saying like this is the law, we have to do this. The social piece of thinking about this is creating an attitude of welcoming that we want you to be here, we know your name, we are happy you are here, how can we help you, attitude.

That is often where effective communication comes into play, making sure that however we are communicating this attitude of welcome to guests is taking into account the different ways that people might communicate or access information. Then looking at ego, thinking about people and individuals and how they are able to make choices and navigate a space. Accessibility and inclusion is not one size fits all. We have this Braille script for you here. It's thinking about what individuals might need and giving them the opportunity to make choices about what they prefer, and how in terms of their accommodation and how they would prefer to be part of a space or in terms of their preferences when it comes to the subject matter, so allowing for independence for all guests is important. At the top, the ultimate goal of us creating an accessible and hospitable environment is providing a direct access to the art form and the accommodations that we are providing for people are of a really high quality, realizing that accommodations can create a filter. If you have a performance and you have, you don't have certified interpreters or you have interpreters who are not a good fit with the subject matter, then the whole piece and spirit of the performance is not going to be communicated adequately, and of the high quality to the visitors who need to for instance take advantage of American Sign Language interpretation, for instance.

Another key part of this self actualization piece is making sure that you are collaborating and working with people with disabilities in the planning and in the behind the scenes of whatever you are doing, and also making sure that there is representation of the different disability groups on stage or in the execs position, whatever we are talking about.

Next slide, thinking about how to plan for accessibility. We are on slide 16. Foundational planning, looking at how we can create and communicate a hospitality mission that is incorporating accessibility, I encourage cultural organizations who are tuning in to be thinking about generally working with their front of house staff and guest facing staff, to be thinking about a hospitality mission, so what do you hope people get out of their experience? And making sure that hospitality mission is accounting for accessibility and inclusion and making sure that whatever your mission is going to be applying to everyone who attends. Taking a access audit and resource inventory, looking at what do you have in your space and what are you offering in terms of content, doing a checklist. There are a lot of different checklists out there. I'd be happy to connect you with some of those. But also looking at resources, what do you have, who do you have on staff, looking at internal , allies and external, allies. Staff training should never be a one off. Thinking about budgeting, how do we plan for accessibility when it comes to financials, a big obstacle that we hear from beginning accessible offerings is that we don't have the budget for it. You need to develop a budget for it. There should be access line items in nearly every program that you are offering. When you are asking for grants and reaching out to other funders, making sure that access is built into that from the beginning is really important. Then once you started some of the different pieces, making sure you are assessing, tracking, and incorporating the different pieces into your communication and follow through with your audience.

Moving to slide 17, I want to introduce a little about CCAC, Chicago cultural accessibility consortium.

We believe that everyone deserves access to Chicago's rich arts and culture, and our mission is to empower Chicago's cultural spaces to become more accessible to visitors with disabilities. We are achieving this through ongoing professional development trainings that we offer here in Chicago and in the suburbs. We have a equipment loan program that we loan out free equipment to different organizations in the area, so they are able to provide accessible offerings to guest was disabilities.

We have an on-line resources including a access calendar. I encourage you to look at our access calendar. We list cultural offerings happening around the region that incorporate accessibility. Another key part of the CCAC is building and maintaining a robust network, so a lot of times the different people who are part of CCAC are saying that they are working independently and sort of in a silo within their institution, feeling pretty alone trying to advance accessible efforts.

By creating CCAC, we have built a place, safe space where people can come and share ideas, share disappointments, share successes together, and that will help us all learn and grow, and support each other through this.

Moving on to the next slide, number 18, CCAC has a listserv as well. I'd encourage all of you to join our listserv. On our website there is a link where you can join our listserv, we have over 900 people part of it. We have social media accounts a Facebook and Twitter. We offer CCAC social, so those are happy hours with people who are working in accessibility in their organization, coming together and sharing information and sharing all of those successes and failures like I talked about in a place together. We heard from one person who participates in CCAC events who said moments after we offered our first captioned performance, I received a E-mail from leadership welcoming us to the family and asking us if we had questions or needed assistance. The arts community in Chicago is becoming more accessible for people with disabilities each day, which is exciting to hear.

On slide 19, we have an image from one of our programs which is actually Lynn who will be speaking soon, speaking at the Art Institute, and we have a room full of people and a lot of them are raising their hands, so we have a lot of attendees that come to our programs. We have a access calendar. Our calendars is accessible for screen readers, which is exciting. We have around 40 options per month and more than 450 events per year that are listed. I encourage organizations participating in the Chicagoland area to please submit your accessible performances here. This is a clearinghouse of information for people. It allows for coordination amongst companies, so different theaters, museums are able to know what other people are doing. That avoids conflicts, since sometimes the disability community we are talking about isn't a lot of people, so we want to make sure that the offerings are spread out throughout the year and not just happening on one day.

The equipment loan program like I mentioned is one that we are excited about. We loan for free different equipment including LCD screens, projectors, a laptop, audio description kits with a stenographer mask, we have also assistive listening devices that people can borrow. We have seen in the 2016-17 season there were 30 arts organizations who borrowed the equipment for around 95 cultural events. In the 17/18 season there were 31 organizations, for 102 cultural events. This isn't substantial growth on one hand, but when you look at the actual organizations that are participating in the equipment loan program, from year to year, it has changed because some of the theaters and museums have already purchased their own equipment, so they don't need to rent ours anymore. That is the ultimate goal, is for this equipment loan program to become obsolete because everyone will be purchasing their own equipment.

When people borrow it and understand how it works and understand how to bring in a audience, from there they can make the case in budget for this in the future, which is exciting to see.

Looking at slide 22, the professional development workshops, we have offered since CCAC started five years ago 35 workshops and had more than 1700 attendees. All of our workshops are accessible, every workshop has had open captioning and then when we receive requests or when it seems appropriate, we also have American Sign Language interpretation, we caption all of our videos, we try really hard to be a model of accessibility. The curator of exhibitions at the Chicago history museum said CCAC has helped Chicago history museum become more aware of accessibility history, law and audience. Many staff members have attended programs that provide both philosophical and practice information to help us transform our museum into a place that welcomes all. Armed with that information, CHM has a access committee and we are working on policy and plans to create a accessibility roadmap for the future.

We are greater together, by collaborating, by sharing resources, by talking. We are also able to, through different service providers, because we are offering more accessible offerings, see a expansion of the market so there is more audio describers, more captioners than there were when we started five years ago. There is a growing market for the consumer because we are offering choices. There is somebody who is part of CCAC who is deaf and who used to feel obligated to go to every open captioned performance because she felt like it was so rare for captioning to be provided that she wanted to support it. Now there is so much captioning happening that she said she can choose what performance she wants to see based upon the subject matter and her interest in it, which is exciting. It is not just about if it's captioned for her now, it's about is it a play that she wants to see. That is offering choices for consumers which is fantastic. We are seeing a increased quality of work. We have an audience member, author Beth Finke who is blind and she said Chicago has been a leader in providing accessible arts to those of us with disabilities ever since CCAC was founded, with all the Chicago area cultural institutions who participate, I've been able to enjoy everything from architecture, walking tours to live 12450 theater to outdoor music events as much as my fellow Chicagoans do and maybe even more.

This is my last slide, slide number 24. Please keep in touch. My E-mail address again is on the screen. I encourage you to join our listserv. There are considerations that happen there. We would be excited to share the Chicago model with different organizations and people interested around the country. Now I'm going to turn it over to my friend and also a founding steering committee member of CCAC, Jason Harrington, education outreach manager at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.


On? Theater.


Thanks, I'm excited to be part of this today. Thanks for asking me. I'm going to take Christena's lead and share my E-mail as well, if I may. I would be happy if folks were in touch with further questions or comments. I work at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and my E-mail is Jharrington @ Chicago Please be in touch if you would like. Christena did a beautiful job of laying some foundational information, that I'm going to lean on, as I talk through my piece of this.

I'll focus on theater accessibility, and what we do at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and what we have learned, and also I hope to highlight what other theaters are doing now in the city as well. Peter had shared with us months ago when we first started planning for this, that it had been about ten years since Great Lakes ADA had offered a program focusing on cultural institutions. I would have to believe that the culture in Chicago is quite different when it comes to cultural accessibility than it was ten years ago. I've been managing the access program as part of what I do here for the past six years or so, and in that time, I feel like the landscape has changed tremendously, and I credit that to a number of things. One is CCAC I think there is a strong connection between the founding of CCAC and the shift in increased service. I think, I credit it to theaters becoming more access minded, if you will, and really dynamic people in positions to effect change, to provide access on a greater level. And also patrons with disabilities, who, in my own experience, certainly, at Shakespeare, helping to see and understand the need and what is possible, and helping to make the programs and services as strong as they can be. In short, for me it's a really exciting time and it's a dynamic job, because of the culture of Chicago and the increased accessibility for people with disabilities.

I'll focus on the specific access programs that we offer, and also what is offered in some places in the city, and also other services that we provide, best practices, things that I've learned and we have learned along the way.

If we are talking about effective communication, or I guess to back up, for the theater, we have the productions themselves which can be made accessible, but also the physical space of just having folks come to us here on Navy Pier.

In terms of the production, we offer four major access programs, that are part of every season now, and we as a theater, in the past six years or so, have had a real increase in, it's connected to I think what is happening over the city and increase in these programs and what we are able to offer.

The first one and Christena touched upon this, American Sign Language at our shows, this is something that we have offered for years and years, but in a much more increased and dedicated way as of late. For our productions, a few things that I wanted to share, they are all duo interpreted, so we have two interpreters that are here, they have taken, in most cases, a full length Shakespeare script and translated it into American Sign Language. They perform the show off book, and they take on, one interpreter would play one character for the entire night, and the other would play the other, but they are in dialogue with one another, and they have studied the show in a way that they are mimicking the emotional intent of the actors, the line readings of the actors, and for a full length Shakespeare our interpreters put in about a hundred hours of rehearsal to prepare for their show. It really is kind of an extension of the art that is happening on stage, and it's of course for people who communicate in American Sign Language. We hear from patrons, it's not a literal translation of the play, but it's a much more interpretative one, as I understand it. I don't communicate in sign language. But very different from someone who may sign a college lecture cold, for example, the performance element of it really, I've heard patrons say that it uses the language, American Sign Language in a really artful way.

The line of sight is a huge consideration. In our courtyard space which is a three quarter thrust we have found kind of a ideal spot that we have learned from our interpreters and from patrons, but making sure that the interpreters are in the same line of sight as the action on the play, so the patrons don't have the experience of being at a tennis match, if you will, but that in the same line of sight they are able to catch the interpreters' work as well as the work on stage. In our new theater space, the yard, which is a fully flexible space, meaning the stage and audience are in different configurations for every production, part of, one thing Christena said or what she alluded to is the idea that access, this work is always a work in progress, and it's something to constantly strive for, and the new theater in terms of access placement and many other things has proven that for us, for every show, we are actively kind of game planning the best way to provide the specific programs.

The next program I wanted to touch upon was open captioning. We have offered this for about five or six years now. And it being a visual display of all of the spoken dialogue, or sung dialogue, in some cases, sound cues, as a access program, it is intended for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but we have learned also this program of all that we offer is in a lot of cases the most universal, meaning it serves not only people with disabilities. The theaters are working, are providing this in a number of different ways. We work with a national captioning company called C2 who comes in and provides the captioning for us. We provide a script, and audio recording of the show, and the captioner will come to preview the show live, and then the captioner will preprogram slides with the dialogue and calls it as a stage manager might, progressing the slides throughout the production.

The goal is that the folks who are using the captioning, they are having a similar of an experience as those who are not, so the timing becomes critical, that if there is a joke in the dialogue, the folks who are using the screen aren't responding, aren't laughing before the folks who aren't. So a big part of the art and science of the captioning has to do with the timing.

The way that we provide it, in most cases, is with a projector and a screen, many other theaters will use an LED scrolling sign to provide it. In some of our spaces, and I know other theaters too will use a flat screen TV. Lots of theaters now in the city and especially some smaller theaters are figuring out how to do open captioning on their own and providing that service without an outside provider, which is really exciting. I was involved with a ensemble in their second season the production they had going they provided open captioning at every show. There was someone there, whether it was requested or not or whether they knew there was anyone in the audience, it was part of that production for every show, which is really exciting. In terms of it being, I mentioned it being more universal or serving a lot of people, we have teachers who come to the theater and just because it's Shakespeare, they love to see the words on the screen as they hear it. People for whom English isn't their first language also, I've heard from patrons here, the caption is a huge support and a helpful tool as they are experiencing the show.

The next two programs are ones that serve people who are blind or have low vision. The first is a touch tour, and many theaters are doing this now, and it's a preshow event where guests come and can handle, can touch the design elements of the show to sort of front load that information, so during the show they have that knowledge and can lose themselves more fully in the production.

As my job goes, these are really fun to plan for, and I work closely with our director of production, and it's about identifying what the kind of most tactile parts of the production are. In a lot of cases here it's the costumes. We build wigs on site, that is often a part of our touch tour. We will take patrons up on stage and explore the set tactilely, props, weaponry is often part of our shows, in terms of swords, and then part of the touch tour is always inviting the actors to join us, and it's an opportunity for one t patrons get to meet the actors which is super cool and rare, so that is kind of a highlight of the touch tour. But they are able to hear some from the actors about a visual description, if there are any specific mannerisms or physicality that they use when they are performing, that would be helpful from a storytelling standpoint. But then also, the actors are modeling their character voice, so during the production, the patrons are more easily able to identify voice and character. Then connected to this, we also provide audio description, also for patrons who are blind or have low vision, it's a verbal narration of all of the visuals, the most important visuals in the show. It could include the actors' blocking or their movement on stage, facial expressions, design choices, costume changes, the bits of information that a sighted audience would be taking in, providing that auditorily. I provide the audio description for all the shows here at Chicago Shakespeare, the patrons are in the house with an ear bud device, audio device. I'm in a soundproof booth providing that, so they are hearing me in one ear and the show in the other.

The other programs that I wanted to touch upon and I can't speak about it personally, because it's something that Chicago Shakespeare is still working towards, is sensory friendly production. Many theaters are starting this work now in the city. It can mean a few different things. For the production itself, it's identifying moments of design in terms of lights, sound, costume, even staging, that someone may find as a trigger or would be too much for someone with sensory issues. So it is tampering those down. But then also, it's about awareness raising in the audience that the performance, what it is and who it is geared towards, so I've heard theaters use like it's a no shh zone, in the audience, that the audience is there to support both the production but also the audience. Providing a social story in advance, information and visuals about what the patron may experience when they are visiting the theater, can be quite helpful. And also having a quiet space in the theater or in the theater building outside of the performance space, where patrons, if they feel the need to leave the production, can go and have a safe quiet space to be in.

In terms of other accommodations that we offer at the theater, and this is a challenge for all of our patrons, is our unique spot of being on Navy Pier which is sometimes not the easiest place to get to and once you are on the pier, not always the easiest place to navigate just to simply get to us.

One thing is being able to meet patrons from wherever they are getting dropped off, if it's the CTA or the Pace drop-off or if they are coming by vehicle or however, we offer a courtesy wheelchair service, where we will meet somebody on the pier and help them get to the theater, or sometimes it's me and sometimes it's a member of our front of house staff, we will get a phone call and go and greet somebody who is on their way to the theater.

Assistive listening devices, for people who are hard-of-hearing, is something that almost all the theaters will offer, and we offer a few different kinds. One is a ear bud device that amplifies the sound in the theater for the patron using it. The other, some theaters have the embedded loop, which is built into the foundation of the building, and it works with people with hearing aids that have T coil capability. We don't have the embedded loop but what we do offer are individual personal devices that use the same technology. So it's like a mini, you wear it like, it's a device you wear like a medallion, so it hangs around the neck and speaks directly to the patron's hearing aid.

In terms of, my time is winding down, and the last couple of things I wanted to share are things that I've learned in terms of best practices in working with patrons, but also working with folks within your organization to make this work possible. A lot of it has to do with educating, and awareness raising. A lot of this is happening between theaters now in the city, and a big credit to CCAC, but I know I have colleagues in the field and as questions come up or as new situations come up that I'm able to reach out to and that they do the same and being part of that sort of network of support is huge.

That is a big part of it. I am so lucky here in that our production department, and specifically our director of production, Chris P Levi n is fully supportive of this work and really does serve as a partner. I know that maybe isn't the case everywhere. And that sort of institutional support and buy-in is a really big deal. Christena mentioned training, and that being a ongoing process. So, so true, and a big part of what I do is collaborating with particularly our front of house team and our box office team, and like many other theaters, we constantly have new employees in those departments. The sense of, like Christena said, the ongoing training is absolutely essential, because it is something that we all can get better at and it is something that should be in the forefronts of our minds, but also there is new folks all the time that are new to this work, and that need to be caught up in that way. Raising awareness with patrons, especially when we started beefing up our access offerings, similarly getting the word out -- simply getting the word out partnering with organizations that serve people with disabilities, we have learned so, so, all across the city there is this increase.

Working the marketing department, to share this information is a huge piece of what I do too. To echo, one thing that Christena said, as I sort of wrap up, the idea that small changes over time can lead to effectiveness and can lead to success, and that has been so, so true with the work that we have done. Also that there is no one size fits all, when it comes to access. All of the programs that I talked about and the other offerings are, none of them are going to serve everybody with a particular disability.

The work can be challenging in the best way, because a lot of times, you are problem solving or you are actively game planning with that patron, and I guess for my final take away I wanted to share was that I think is the most important thing I've learned, is not making assumptions in terms of what that patron's experience is or what they may need to have a full experience at your organization, but listening hard to patrons and having the flexibility and the support on your end to, in cases try something you have never tried before, or think, we have done it this way for a long time, maybe we will make this shift, and in this particular case, this patron is going to have a much more full and positive experience.

That is what I wanted to share, to reiterate, please do reach out over E-mail if you have any questions. Jharrington @ Now I have the honor of introducing my friend, Lynn Walsh, the accessibility and inclusion manager at Shedd Aquarium, and she will have the third part of our session now. Lynn?


Thanks, Jason and thank you, Peter, for the opportunity to do this webinar with two of my favorite access champions. It's a pleasure to be here.

I am going to be talking about some of the work we are doing at Shedd Aquarium when it comes to access and inclusion, and it's interesting listening to Jason talk, so many of the things he's doing at Chicago Shakes and what other theaters are doing are very similar to what is happening at the aquarium. But it's unique, because there is a live collection, there is animals that we have to consider. I'll touch on that a little bit as we go through.

Our access and inclusion initiative at Shedd Aquarium is known as all are welcome. We are on page 26 of the webinar. You will see my E-mail address and phone number are also listed, and I agree with Christena and Jason, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to share resources, and we kind of all agree that there is no need for anyone to recreate the wheel. We are always happy to share information. Maybe what we have learned along the way, what has worked and what hasn't worked. Moving on screen 27, these are the priorities of accessibility and inclusion of the team at Shedd Aquarium. They are guiding principles. They were in place prior to my arrival. I've been at Shedd for two years now. But these were something that the team continues to go back to and reflect on as we are thinking of new projects and working towards accessibility and inclusion at Shedd.

You will note that it's kind of in line with some of the guidelines of the ADA, but as I'm sure all of you want to do, Shedd's goal is not just to meet the ADA guidelines. We are really interested in going above and beyond the ADA, making Shedd a welcoming and inclusive experience for all our guests, no matter what their abilities are. And to do that seamlessly, so you don't even notice that something has been done for a particular disability group.

At Shedd we have a cross departmental team that work on access and inclusion that has 21 members from 15 different departments. While not all the members are included in all the different projects that go on at Shedd, something we constantly remind each other about is do what you can do within your own sphere of influence. There are, with all the departments at Shedd, I cannot have my hand on every little project, so by having this cross departmental team, that is aware of what our priorities and guiding principles are, and what our mission is when it comes to being accessible and inclusive, that is a way for them to go ahead and do what they can do within their sphere of influence.

We do work hard to foster that welcoming and inclusive culture, to provide effective communication and multi sensory experience for all our audiences, working really hard to maintain a barrier-free, safe and comfortable environment. I'm sure I'm not the only one on this call that is in an old building. So getting rid of all those barriers are really a challenge. But this is where that step by step process comes into place. Anything new that is built within the aquarium, of course s accessible and universally designed. We continue to chip away at those barriers that were part of the original building at Shedd, which on one hand could be really beautiful, but on the other hand, making the space totally inaccessible to others.

What we want to do of course is offer opportunities for our guests to have social interaction, but then also independent exploration. I'm going to go through some examples on how we are doing this in just a minute.

Moving on to screen 28, one thing that both Christena and Jason touched on is staff training, and it's probably one of the most important things I think we can do to make Shedd welcoming and inclusive. What I tell our staff is, we can have all the fancy accommodations and resources in the world, but if we don't know who it's for, how to use it, where it's kept, all that good stuff, it is really worth nothing. While we provide a variety of staff training, such as what is listed, the community panels, the local resources like JJ's list, disability players come in and provide disability etiquette, we reach out to places like autism Speaks, local organizations like Chicago Lighthouse, we recently last week actually had universal design training, and tomorrow we are going to be offering universal design for learning training. All of this is fabulous and exciting but in addition to these ongoing trainings, we always will continue to do those very basic trainings, where are our assistive listening devices, how do they work? If you can't figure out how to make them work, do you know who to contact so that we can make them work? Can you direct the visitor to where those are kept, those resources are kept, all those kind of things are important when it comes to that ongoing staff training as well.

Going to more formal trainings, whenever possible, we do like to include the disability community in the training. I've been doing work with disability in cultural organizations for about 15 years, and what I've heard time and time again is that people really do want to help people with disabilities, but they are often afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, so then they do nothing at all. So by introducing them to people with disabilities as basic and sometimes silly as this might sound, you are helping get the point across that people with disabilities are really just people, and that makes all the difference in the world. Whenever possible, look into your own community and try to find those resources. On the screen you see a picture of a panel that we provided this past January, and the woman with her hand up in the foreground is Beth Finke, someone that Christena spoke about. She is someone that is blind, and she visits Shedd on a pretty regular basis. Next to Beth is Brian, who is a local director who is a wheelchair user. Next to Brian is Rachel a CCAC steering committee member and also someone in the community who is deaf. And then in the background is Laurie, the mom of three adorable children, two of which are on the autism spectrum. They too are regular visitors to Shedd, so are familiar with our spaces and what we offer. When they come in and provide this type of panel training where it's a safe space, staff can ask questions, and the panel just shares what it's like for them or their families to visit in our case an aquarium but they also talk about going to museums and other cultural organizations, getting that information directly from the people you are trying to serve makes all the difference in the world, and gets the point across to your staff that these are just people, and we want to provide the best customer service to everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Moving on to page 29, Shedd offers a variety of resources and accommodations at the aquarium, and a lot of the things we currently offer are a result of feedback we have heard from the community. It's really important that you talk to the people you are trying to serve, find out what their needs are, what visiting places like your organization, you know, we can assume that people need one thing, and we can be totally off base. We work closely with the disability community when working on new programs or thinking about offering new resources or accommodations. The all gender family bathrooms that include adult changing tables are direct result of working with community. I was hearing over and over from parents of adult children with disabilities, how difficult it is for them to go out and visit different places, because they do need those adult changing tables and so few places have them. The adult changing table Shedd has are really not super fancy. They are like the changing tables you see anywhere else, except they are bigger, which still kind of makes it difficult for the parents of these adults with disabilities to do what they need to do. They still have to manually lift their child on to the changing table, so again, it's not perfect. But it was a step in the right direction. It goes back to what Christena and Jason said about, this is kind of a ongoing process, and you do what you can step by step.

A great step that Shedd has made over the last couple years, when we had received requests for audio description of our aquatic presentations in the past, it was a little complicated. We had to find someone out in the community who was familiar with the show, with our animals, with the different activities and enrichment things the animals can do. It got to the point where Shedd realized it would be important for someone in-house to be able to do this. We now have several staff on hand who have been trained in the skill or art of audio description, verbal description, a few who can actually describe the aquatic presentations. Again, if you have never participated or been a participant in an audio described performance, it's really something you should experience for yourself, so you understand what is out there and how people benefit from these resources. And then for an added twist, go to an audio described performance that includes live animals, that don't like to follows scripts, and you will get a whole new appreciation for what is going on at different organizations.

So we have closed captioning for our 4D theater, that is something that the moving production company has supplied but something else that we are excited about is Shedd's sensory friendly app. It was originally designed for people on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing disorder. But we have quickly found it's a great universal tool for anyone who wants to plan ahead and know what they are getting into, when they are going to be visiting your location.

We are thinking more and more as we address others to Shedd, not just about the disability community, it can impact and help, but how many other guests will be able to benefit from this resource. Sound reducing headphones, instead of just have a couple in one location, we have numerous headphones in various locations to meet the needs of people who might not even have known that headphones would be helpful when visiting an aquarium.

At Shedd we have a couple cool talking tactile models, that were originally designed for people who are blind or have low vision, but any visitor who comes to Shedd benefits from those tactile models. Again, something that has been universally designed and used by everyone. Then wheelchairs and walkers as basic as that seems, those are resources that are really appreciated, sometimes by people that don't even know they need them until they get to your really large organization.

Moving on to the next slide, slide 30, this is pictures of our BEAM robot. It's a telepresence robot. It's specifically for people who cannot physically come to Shedd for one reason or another. We have been piloting it BEAM Pro for the last year and been reaching out to families or groups of people with disabilities, that the disability is the reason they cannot come to the aquarium. We have had successful tours with a memory care unit at a nursing home, a V.A. hospital, with Childrens hospital, but also some integrated classrooms that a visit to Shedd would just be difficult, whether they are hours away from our facility or just because the needs of the group would make it almost impossible to come, we have been able to connect with those classrooms or those individuals by way of our robot. What is really great about the robot is the people that beam in are actually driving the robot. They have the opportunity as they are driving around to interact with other visitors that are at the aquarium, just like any other visitor. They can see each other, if they would like, there are some, in some cases we do block the screens, so we cannot see who is on the other end, we do that in cases of childrens hospitals, when parents don't want their children's faces on the screen. Or womens shelters for the safety of those participants, we will block their faces. But they get to see everyone there interacting, everyone they are interacting with at the aquarium. There are guides that walk along with the BEAM robot sharing information about the different animals. There are a few of us always in the background that are answering questions for the on-site visitors, who are really curious about this robot, that is cruising around the aquarium. What makes it also fun and unique, many of our different animals respond in a unique way to the BEAM robot. It might be hard to see but in the upper right-hand corner, there is a beluga whale in the background vertical in the water, looking directly at the participants on the screen. That particular beluga we could count on to calls come by and interact in that way during the tours -- always come by. It makes it a unique experience but offers a lot of same things that any on-site visitor also has.

Moving on to the next slide, something Shedd just started again because we kept hearing from the community that they wanted private hours at the aquarium, we just piloted Calm Waters, extended hours for guests with disabilities. Being on museum campus in Chicago provided many challenges, so it took us a good long time to actually get these first two events off the ground. We had hoped to pilot two during the weekends and two during the evenings during the week. Unfortunately, sharing land with soldier field where the Bears play, it made it difficult. The Bears made schedule changes that resulted in us having to cancel our weekends sessions. But we moved forward with our evening extended hours. Shedd closed at 4:00 to our regular guests, and then we reset and reopened at 4:30 to preregistered guests, tickets were not sold at the door. This helped with streamlining the admission process, something again we heard from guests that waiting in line can be really difficult for them or members of their family. We tried to do everything we could during the course of those two events to make this experience really comfortable and safe, and judgment-free zone. That is something we have heard time and time again, and something you should consider when creating any kind of event, talk to who your primary audience is going to be and find out what those needs are. We heard that people often don't go out because they are frankly tired of being judged and they just want to go and be with other people that are similar to theirs, have families like theirs. I'm excited to share that the calm waters event was really successful. The October event, we had 51 participants. The admission fee was reduced down to $10. But participants, if they were driving, still had to pay a $25 parking fee, Shedd does not have parking. We tried to eliminate as many of the challenges for families as we could. But those challenges that we could not get rid of like the $25 parking, we made sure it was quite clear to everyone so they weren't surprised when they showed up at our door. We worked with Uber who provided $10 discounts the evening of our events for one way rides either to or from the aquarium during our calm waters events.

Working with different resources in your community to help make your locations more accessible or your events more accessible, when reaching out to Uber we felt the worse they can do is say no but instead they quickly came back and said they would be happy to work with us on these events.

We are looking to continue Calm Waters events in 2019. We are again struggling with the museum campus schedule, but after hearing all the positive feedback from guests, we know it's something we want to do. I don't think I mentioned that at the November event, we ended up with 210 participants. We know there is a need and want in the Chicagoland area for quiet times at Shedd. We are going to do our best to offer that.

Moving on to slide 32, nothing about us without us. This is something I'm sure you have all heard time and time again, and it is something that at Shedd Aquarium we live by. There is nothing we do when it comes to access and inclusion work that we are not talking to people within the community to find out if we are on the right track, if we are doing what will work for them, and at Shedd we don't have an advisory board, one group of people with disabilities that we go to. Instead, I have a list of over a hundred now of people with various disabilities or various professional backgrounds that help us. We want to make sure we are getting the input and views from a variety of people, not just a handful of people that might sit on an advisory board. We work closely with a large amount of people, and do our best to meet everyone's needs. But I think as Jason touched on, you are never going to satisfy everyone, and there is only so much we can all do. But the fact that we are doing something, reaching out and making sure we are on the right path, is really important.

I want to stress, don't hesitate to reach out to local occupational therapists, physical therapists, special education classrooms, those people in your own communities and let them know what you are trying to do, that you are trying to make your facility as accessible and inclusive as possible, and I'd be surprised if you heard no. People are usually so excited to hear that you want to go in that direction, that they will bend over backwards to help you.

I think that's the biggest message I want to share, don't make those assumptions about what people want or need or what they can do or not do. Work with everyone, and it's really about providing that excellent customer service and the same resources to everyone. That is all I have. All right. Thank you very much, Lynn, Jason, Christena, for a lot of great information. You would have thought that each of you, you were told you would have 20 or 22 minutes for your portion of the presentation, but excellent job, lots of great information.

A reminder to our participants that are in the webinar room, you can submit your questions in the chat area, and submit your questions, you will not see your question when it is submitted, but it is accessible to us on this end. We will provide those questions to our speakers. I would now ask James, if he can rejoin us and give instructions for participants on the telephone on how they can ask questions, please.

(pause). While we are waiting for instructions for telephone participants, I will start out with this, questions that we have. I thought it was great that it started with Christena and talking about hospitality and serving patrons and the theme was continued when Jason spoke, and Lynn spoke. Your presentations weren't about compliance. It wasn't about the ADA. It was about serving all patrons, including people with disabilities and Lynn, you talked about universal design and Jason also mentioned going, areas going above and beyond.

You mentioned several times, Lynn, this question is for you as I'm building up to the question here, you talked about many times hearing from the community and at the end of your presentation, you talked about the more than a hundred individuals that you work with to get feedback. How else, and I'll open this up to Jason after you answer, Lynn, how else do you get feedback from visitors? Do you do any type of surveying, how do you collect data from the patrons that are actually using the Shedd?

Yes, we do surveys. We are lucky at Shedd we have a research and evaluation team, so at various times depending on what the information is we are looking for, I can meet with research and evaluation will help us put together surveys, the surveys are either done on the floor, they will pick out different people, they can be sent to people. We did surveys after both of those calm waters events. There is a variety of ways, and I'm lucky having that evaluation and research department on hand, they can often suggest the best route to take when we are looking for the various information. Then reaching out to that list too, depending on what we need, we have those community partners, and really we use them and take advantage of their knowledge.

Great. Jason, at Shakespeares, how do you go about getting information?


Yeah, a few different ways. Sometimes and especially when I was starting as a audio describer, when I was starting and even now, depending on if it's a style of show I've never done before, I'm just asking patrons literally at intermission, to get a sense of how it's going for them, more of this, less of that. That honestly was the biggest training tool when I started describing was that just direct feedback. That is how I learn the most about what works.

Other programs I'll follow up with patrons with a personal E-mail after the program, with the hopes of sharing some information. It is like grass-roots kind of reaching out to people. But then also for our caption performances, we survey the entire audience, because the screen is a visible tool for over, in our main space, the courtyard theater for over three-quarters of the audience. So we learn a lot from, for that program, from patrons who are using it, from patrons who are not using it, and from patrons who didn't think they were going to use it and then used it. So a few different ways. But all, I find it most effective when it's personal, those in-person touch bases or the personal E-mails, but also the surveys give us a wider net of feedback.

Can I jump in for a second? This is Christena talking. One other thing I wanted to mention too is, what Lynn and Jason do is fantastic, and building off of the, especially what Jason talks about is having the personal connection with somebody, I think is really important for organizations. Sometimes when we work in cultural organizations, we get in the habit of blending in and becoming sort of this faceless, we are all part of a team and all part of this organization, but when we talk about access and inclusion in particular, we really need to have this personal face and personal communication and relationship grow, and then as that trust builds, then more and more you are going to hear honest feedback about what is working and what is not.

I read a Harvard business school study recently that was talking about customer service and what is most effective, and a lot of times what is most effective is actually not to say "we" but to say I, because customers understand that you take them seriously and you will be responsible for helping them and getting what they need. Applying that to access and inclusion is important, to know that as the access person on staff or even if that is not your official role but as somebody involved with accessibility, that you take their, the customer's experiences really seriously and want them to be as fully involved as possible.

Excellent. Thanks, Christena. Quick follow-up for Lynn from someone, wanting to know how you pulled together the group of a hundred or more people that you get feedback from or that you reach out to, to get input from.


You know, that list has been, I've been gathering that list for years and years. It is people I've met along the way, families that were visiting other cultural organizations that I worked for and built a relationship with. It's what Christena and Jason both said, that personal touch, getting to know people, letting them get to know a face, not just a name and know there is a real person interested in their feedback, and often just walking around, like Shedd Aquarium if I see a family maybe that has unique needs, or is commenting on something that we worked really hard on, or using one of those tactile models, depending, I don't want to interrupt their visit, but there have been times that I go over, introduce myself, hand out a card and say if you are ever interested in talking more about accessibility or if I can reach out to you, please contact me, because I don't want to interrupt anyanyone's visit, same thing happened at calm waters, we wanted it to be a event where families could enjoy the aquarium, but we so wanted feedback.

So we had staff around that people were willing to talk, we talked but said we would be sending surveys, we would love your feedback. It is that personal touch and getting to know people and building relationships and keeping the relationships going over the years.


In terms of building a list like Lynn has, and if you are starting from scratch, like for instance the CCAC listserv we have had people put a call out to say we want to start this type of program and we would love to have some user experts, from people with disabilities really testing and working with us to ensure the program's success, like please pass this on, you are going to get some results. So if there is a local access knowledge network like CCAC in your area, that is one place to start. But if there isn't one, I think just looking at message boards and Facebook groups of different disability types is a good way to get started and working with those service organizations like the Lighthouse or other groups like that, that serve different people with disabilities is a good way to get that list started. Then you are going to see who comes time and time again to programs and who become your allies there and you can reach out to them going forward.

Christena, this is obviously a national program, and how do folks in smaller or mid-size cultural venues around the country, where there isn't something similar to CCAC, can you talk about the origins of CCAC and also, are there other existing organizations that aren't specific to disability in a community that are similar to CCAC, where might have a origin around the country.


Good question, Peter. If you go to CCAC's website, Chicago cultural, we do have, I don't remember the exact URL but we have a listing of other local access knowledge networks, I believe if you go to the resources tab. So we list the ones that we are aware of across the country, and there definitely are a fair number of groups that are popping up. I get contacted regularly, by different regions in the country, to get something like this started.

There is a fair number popping up, and at least would have a listserv or would have a few folks to help you get started and get connected with other people. That would definitely be something I would do after this webinar concludes, is look and see what you have already going on in your area, again because we are all busy, we wear a lot of hats, so working in nonprofit organizations making it easier for everyone by working together. I started CCAC six years ago now, five or six years ago depending what date you use as the start date but when I moved to Chicago from New York City, and wantedded to get connected with the cultural access community in Chicago and got connected with Lynn and with a few other great folks who were working in accessibility and cultural organizations, and so had some conversations and in talking with them realized that there was a need for us to be sharing information and there was good things happening, but it was pretty isolated. No one knew especially what was going on in theater, if you were in a museum or vice versa. One of the first thing we did was decided on who was going to be the leaders of the group, so Lynn and I and one other person from Steppenwolf, Evan hatfield, the three of us were the leaders of this little group and created a steering committee and brought in people from different cultural organizations, including Jason from Chicago Shakespeare, and people with disabilities who could help shape what CCAC would be about. One of our first goals was to put together this professional development training, so having different monthly workshops that people could come to and we started with very much the basics of sort of what is the ADA and how do you welcome different disability groups. We took our cue from the lead conference which stands for the leadership exchange in arts and disability LEAD through the Kennedy center, they have a annual conference in August around the country. Next year it will be in Denver. If you are able to go to that, that is a really great way to get started, and I think a good orientation to what is out there and especially getting connected and meeting colleagues who are working in this field in other places. We started doing professional development trainings and planning them, and I know when Lynn and I and Evan would speak together we would say we are not experts in this, we are not sure if we are the ones to talk about it, but realized we knew a little more about this than other people did in Chicago, so decided to own that we are not experts telling you what to do, but open the door to possibilities. We would present and share, like there is different things we can and should be doing for different audiences. That was how we got our started.

Thanks, Christena. This question is for Jason, who does the audio describing description for the Shakespeare Theater, who writes the script, when you have a new production performance that is going to launch, Jason? How does that take place?


I do. I do that. The description script, Peter? Yeah. That is part of my preparation. Every production is unique, so it's starting from the beginning every time. I guess the more that I do, it may get easier but every show poses different sorts of challenges. That is what I found in my experience. But I'll preview the show multiple times. I think a benefit for me is that I work here, so the productions are very close. I have kind of a inside view about the design and development of the production, and that is a huge benefit. I do freelance at other theaters and it is, my prep looks different because I'm not as intimate with the production as the ones here. But yeah, it is previewing the show, I'll have an audio recording or video recording of the show and will use that, both in helping me to write the description, but also in terms of the timing. The big trick with description or one of the best practices is not talking at the same time as the actors. So it's not only the language, but also the timing, knowing where the pauses are in the production and being able to fill that with good descriptive language but also being efficient with your language, so you are not stepping on the actors' lines. Yeah. That is what that looks like.

That timing thing is interesting, because that caught my attention when you talked about it with the captioning, and making sure that the timing was good, you don't want someone laughing beforehand but you don't want someone seeing the script after everyone else is already laughing. The timing is really key. Christena talked about the training in the LEAD conference. That was one of the questions, glad that you brought that up. Jason, any specific training or suggestions for someone around audio description that, if an organization wants to internally train someone, any suggestions, training, other than what you have mentioned as to what you do to prepare?


Yeah, I can tell you what my experience is, and was. It started with me shadowing folks who had described here at Shakespeare before, and learning from them, and then also going to other theaters and just being, listening to their description. I saw a bunch of movies with description, which works differently, I mean they have the benefit of, it is not live, you know, the description is prerecorded and sync'd and all that. But at least getting a sense of what the, the language used and what, just simply what the description, what those scripts sounded like. Then like I said, the first show I did here, I did just one act. I shared it with another describer and then got a lot of feedback from patrons, direct feedback. The next show, I did the whole show. Then patrons were here for that initial show, we invited patrons for free to try out our touch tour, it was the first touch tour we did. It was my first time doing the whole three-hour show. We, similar to what Lynn talked about in terms of engaging the community, we had a crew of about 20 patrons who were blind, had low vision, who were here to literally test the program. That was the start of it. That direct feedback from patrons, that is what my path was, Peter.

Thanks, Jason.

Another plug for the lead conference, they do a preconference training that you can take, that would include audio description, so it's a great way to get your feet wet, if you want to be immersed in this world and get started, and that is usually done by Deb Louis who is from the audio description solutions, which is an organization that I highly suggest to get more information. They have some things on-line. Great, thanks for that, Christena. Lynn, people have lots of questions about your group of a hundred or so of folks that you reach out to and whether or not you provide any type of compensation, and the questioner wants to know if you have thoughts, or Jason or Christena, about how you might compensate folks that you reach out for, as experts to get that type of input, things that might be done.


That is a good question. It is important that you not take advantage of people in your community. Depending on the situation, when we do panels, we do offer an honorarium to those who participated. In other cases, it's oftentimes just offering free visits, or pretty much everybody on my list knows if they want to visit Shedd, just give me a call and I'll make that happen. It's little things like that, if there is something special going on that I need someone to be there to see or participate in, I'll make that call. Then I'll try to, so free admission to that, I'll try to offer them parking which is really tricky in our area. It's little things. At Shedd, I'm lucky to be able to offer that honorarium. At other organizations, I didn't have the budget to do so. But I was really open and honest up front, and shared whatever I could and again in most cases it was that free visit or two or three or more.

Excellent. Christena, could you talk about, someone had a question about how the lending library, was funded or is funded. (overlapping speakers).


Equipment loan program, we received, CCAC received a small grant to help get that started. Then we operate the equipment loan program in partnership with Steppenwolf theater company. Steppenwolf has the space, CCAC doesn't have an office or physical location, other than my personal address. We have the equipment stored at Steppenwolf. People make arrangements to pick up the equipment through Steppenwolf. We try our best and want to get even better at doing this, of making sure that people have a thorough training not only in how the equipment works, but also additional contacts, the sort of language, etiquette, making sure that we are giving people the best information so they can provide the best program for people.

Great. I will put this question out, regarding Christena, at the beginning you talked about the number of people with disabilities, and we know that baby-boomers and part of the aging process is acquiring disabilities. This is also a group that is not as likely, not likely to identify as having a disability. But oftentimes they are going to benefit from captioning, assistive listening devices and perhaps even audio description. So any unique things, any things that you are doing to reach out to this group, because sometimes, the minute you say it's for people with disabilities they may not want anything to do with that. What are you doing to reach out to this group that can benefit from things that you are doing?


This is Christena talking.

((overlapping speakers). Go ahead.

Sorry. But I was going to say I think this is where marketing and communication is key. I've seen organizations that have a really great like access brochure that lists all of the different accessible offerings that are available for people with disabilities, which I think is really great. But this is also where I think choice and recognizing the different paths that people take to get to your organization is really key, because it's also important in your general marketing information that you are listing all of the different accommodations and different things that are available, so that people understand that it's not just sort of the special offering but rather this is something that you are offering in general for everybody. That is one way.

I think having good signage in your institution is good too, and maybe using the access symbols is helpful, and then also using some words. But you don't have to use that many words. I also think that doing things like prime era ensemble, a small theater company Jason mentioned is great, because they provided captioning at every single performance regardless of if there was a request or not. That is something that they offer and that is what they do.

Building in those scheduled opportunities, whether it's at your museum or theater, that is another way to raise awareness of, for the services being available because if you are waiting for people to ask for them, you might be waiting a long time because they don't know that your organization is able to provide those accommodations. Lynn?


Yeah. Very similar, we have gotten the same feedback. We have recently had a veterans panel and they admitted they wouldn't go to our accessibility page even though every member of that panel had a physical disability, they don't consider themselves disabled, just like the baby-boomers, Peter. So we are really thinking about our language now, instead of having, we are going to keep our accessibility page of the website, but we are also thinking about adding exhibiting enhancements, some type of language on a regular page that everyone visits, so people know it's for everyone and not just people with disabilities especially if those people with disabilities don't identify as such.

That is great, universal design and not having to make those accommodations or modifications. We are at the bottom of the hour. Thank you all very much, Lynn, Jason, Christena, lots of great information, if your question did not get answered, all three of our speakers provided their E-mail addresses, and they said they would welcome hearing from you. So do not hesitate to do so. A quick reminder that our next session will be January 15. That will be accommodating students with disabilities, enrolled in health and, in medical and health science programs. You can get information about registering at The archive for today's session, audio archive will be available within 24 hours at and a edited transcript will be available within two weeks time. If you have questions about the ADA audio program you can call us at 877-232-1990. Thank you all for participating in today's session and again, thank you to our presenters for their valuable information and time that they provided to us. On behalf of the ADA National Network and all of us here at the Great Lakes ADA center, I want to wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, and great new year. Thanks again and we will talk to you next year. Good day.


This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.