Somerset House New Access Programme

Somerset House Access
A New Programme for visually impaired visitors
An Introductory Tour of Somerset House with a Focus Group

Date: 1 June 2019

Image: The Edmond J. Safra fountain court, Somerset House, with the North Wing in the background.
Image description: This is on the approach to the fountain quadrangle from the Seamen’s Hall, with the fountain in the foreground and the North Wing in the background. It is a bright sunny day with the blue sky visible above the North Wing. A young girl in a bright red t-shirt can be seen on the left playing with the fountain.

This Pilot session with a Focus Group explored the possibilities and opportunities available to visually impaired and differently-abled visitors to this contemporary arts centre in the heart of London.

Image: The Old Somerset House and the Thames. Circa 1680 | Image credit: Somerset House.
Image description: The Old Somerset House is in the background and the Thames in the foreground, with several boats sailing past the Embankment entrance.

Somerset House

Somerset House is a contemporary arts centre in the heart of London offering a diverse and dynamic public programme to a large community of creative businesses, artists and makers. It is also one of London’s most spectacular and well-loved spaces where art and culture is imagined, made and experienced by over 3 million visitors every year.

The Introductory Tour

This Introductory tour, created to explore the possibilities and opportunities within Somerset House, was devised around three elements; the History, the Architecture, and the current use of the building. The tour took us from the Seamen’s Hall to the Stamp stairs, the Embankment entrance, the Edmond J. Safra fountain court, the North Wing archway and finished in front of the statue of King George III. The feedback session was moderated by Lynn Cox, a VI artist and facilitator.

Starting at the Seamen’s Hall, a space full of character and offering a sense of grandeur with its white marble floors, imposing Corinthian columns, chandeliers and huge windows, we went on to view the architectural facade at the bottom of the Stamp stairs, which is on the street level from the Embankment entrance.

A Focus Group was invited to test the resources and give their objective evaluation. A key goal for this pilot session is to develop a programme that will become a valid cultural learning experience.

Image: VI visitors viewing the architectural facade of the North Wing.
Image description: Standing at the base of the Stamp stairs, VI visitors stand in front of the facade of the North Wing. The white facade is set on a two foot plus tall dark grey plinth, installed on the right side of the room. Three VI’s and a sighted guide discuss the features of the facade.

At the base of the Stamp stairs is the installed architectural facade of the North Wing. This facade, the exterior wall or face of a building, features detailed characteristics of the architecture of the building. Facades usually involve design elements like deliberate placement of windows or doors and the elaborate features and decorations in the structure. The North Wing facade reveals the massive arched doorways, large porch and wide windows, and plenty of consideration into the types of fenestrations used including the wall panels and curtain walls.

Image: VI visitors by the Embankment entrance listening to a detailed history of Somerset House.
Image description: Standing just under the arch at the Embankment entrance, four VI visitors and two sighted guides stand together to discuss the historical information about the building.

Leading out northbound from the Seamen’s Hall to the Edmond J. Safra fountain court, we view the courtyard which is one of the grandest locations in London. It is centred around Somerset House’s iconic fountains and surrounded on all sides by 19th century buildings.

This Grade 1 listed building does have some physical access limitations because of steps from the Seamen’s Hall and narrow walkways, uneven surface of the Stamp stairs and a cobbled square that goes all the way around the fountain and leading up to the North Wing.

To help with the interpretation of the space, we made reference to the architectural facade displayed in the Stamp stairs and used a 3D model of the top of the Corinthian columns. The Corinthian column is very ornate with slender fluted columns, with elaborate capitals decorated with leaves and rings.

Somerset House Today

Somerset House is a cultural destination with residents including over 100 organisations from the arts and creative industries. The Somerset House Exchange provides a co-working space for 120 small businesses and start-ups, including Makerversity, a pioneering collection of emerging maker businesses supported since its launch.

Since 1775 when a new building was erected, designed by William Chambers, the building housed various government departments including births, marriage, deaths and the Inland Revenue.

Somerset House was established in July 1997 to conserve and preserve Somerset House as an arts centre. After a campaign to open Somerset House to the public, it became a home for arts and culture in 2000.

Future Tours

The Somerset House Learning and Skills team and the MaMoMi team are reviewing some exciting possibilities and are keen to make this programme a valid learning experience for differently-abled visitors. Updates will be posted shortly.

Accessibility

Somerset House strives to be open and accessible to all, and continue to work to remove barriers for visitors with disabilities and to ensure our event and exhibitions are accessible.

To discuss your visit, call 0207 845 4600 to speak to someone in visitor experience between 10.00 and 17.00. You can also email visitor@somersethouse.org.uk and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us at MaMoMi via info@mamomiinitiative.com

Address

Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Getting here

The underground from Temple Station to Embankment entrance, which is approximately 200m. You can also use the main line stations Charring Cross, Blackfriars and Waterloo.

Credits

Andrew Mashigo: Tour Developer and Facilitator
Lynn Cox: Tour Developer and Facilitator
Catherine-Ritman Smith: Head of learning and Skills, Somerset House
Sophia-Hinton Lever: Learning and Skills Coordinator, Somerset House
Stu Baker: 3D Model Designer
Image credit: Somerset House Trust and MaMoMi
Large Print guide and Braille: MaMoMi initiative

#somersethouse #access #visual #arts #culture #education #mamomi

Displacement and Migration: mapping and soundscape

Designers in residence is a core part of Design Museum’s programme. Now in its 9th year, it reflects the museum’s commitment to providing support for designers in the early part of their careers.

The 2015 exhibition focuses on the theme of Migration, with four designers selected for their innovation and original thinking. Stephanie Hornig, Chris Green, Alexa Pollman and Hefin Jones were the Designers in Residence 2015.

The plan:

The Displacement and Migration multisensory tour was held on Saturday 9 January, and to have a good opportunity to investigate the narrative and critical nature of this exhibition, we divided the tour into three areas; Migration and Displacement, Migration and Mapping, and Migration and Soundscape.

The subject:

Migration and Displacement.
We can’t really talk about Migration without making a reference to what has been described as probably the world’s worst human tragedies, the current forced migration of people affecting parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. There is an argument against such a major displacement of people but research reveals that human migration has happened throughout history:

▪The biblical Exodus of the Israelite’s in the Old Testament records that “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children” left Egypt. –   Exodus 12:37

▪ In Quebec history, 925,000 French Canadians were said to have left for the United States between 1840 and 1930, mostly due to political and economic reasons.

▪One of the greatest waves of immigrants to the USA was during the 1820’s to 1890’s, when more than 5 million immigrants arrived in America from Ireland and Germany.

▪Between the 16th and 19th centuries, about 11 million Africans were forced into slavery and brought to the Americas.

▪The Jewish Exodus from Arab and Muslim countries saw the Jewish migration include nearly all the 140,000 Jews from Algeria emigrating, mostly to France after Algerian independence in 1962.

Migration involves movement, mobility and transition and we can explore that idea with several objects, systems and processes. Objects are ideal for exploring spatial displacement and this tour uses definitive elements like form, shape, texture and density to explain its day-to-day manifestation. One question we asked was; do you know animals like the Caledonian bird use flexible thinking to solve multi-stage problems? When tested, a crow knows that dropping stones or gravel into a half-filled jar of water will cause the water level to rise to the top, making access to the water easier.

The Hourglass is another excellent object to explore elements of the cause and effect of material displacement. You clearly hear the sound of the sand travelling from one part of the hourglass to the other.

Migration and Mapping:
Chris Green’s Aerial Futures display shows 2 four-engine and 1 three-engine drone each mounted on metal stands. Chris’s practice forges new relationships between people, place and the city and this display was a main part of our interrogation of movement, mapping, surveillance and tracking.

It is worth noting that though most drones are 4-engine, Octocopters or eight-engine drones are more efficient for high-risk or longer range use so that a possible failure to the first set of engines is not terminal, allowing for extraction of the device from its operation.

Drone by Chris Green
Image: Chris Green’s  4-engine drone.
Copyright Chris Green, Drone 2015

Drones have become increasingly popular with flying enthusiasts but are also famously and excellently used in extensive and long-range research and activities like monitoring, surveillance and exploration. Because they are silent, precise and can be operated from a distance without detection, drones have excellent use during war, for exploring space and researching volcanoes. They are also used in farming and for mapping terrains.

A good example is the use of drones during the investigation of Katla, Iceland’s most active and dangerous volcano. Scientists are able to monitor seismic activity by capturing aerial images which detail 3D maps of the area. They also place monitors as close as possible to the core of the eruptions so GPS tracking systems gather data, which they feedback in real time.

Using Telematics is key to the work that goes on during mapping. Telematics are devices that merge telecommunications and infomatics and this includes anything from GPS systems to navigation systems. We see them featured in anything from vehicle trackers to hands-free mobile calling, and our mobile phones are an example of a Telematics device.

Animals also have very sophisticated processes and tracking abilities that help with mapping. An example is how bats use echoes from clicks to convey not only their distance to a target, but also the size, shape, speed, and vector of the objects movement. The bloodhounds ability to track game, the humpback whale’s ability to migrate from Antarctica to eastern Australia to give birth and mate during the winter and spring, and the rattle snake’s ability to track its prey after striking are among varying elements of tracking and mapping that are constantly used by animals and in wildlife.

Echolocation allows dolphins to tell the difference between types of fish, and can identify size, shape and weight by the echo that comes back to them. They can also easily discern the difference between objects that are different in material composition, even if visually identical, by their different densities.

Alexa Pollman’s Indivicracy display is about the concept of a future nation where a new form of government for the 21st century is created, in which societies exist without borders or territory. Allowing for free movement, the citizen’s are constantly moving between places, with governance in place to protect individuals who choose to migrate borders of settled societies.

Trackpack. For DM Jan blog
Image: Alexi Pollman’s Trackpack.
Copyright Alexi Pollman, Trackpack 2015.

Alexi also challenges the current notion of “wear” and her display suggests ideas for future garments like the super-insulated gloves called Typers, the masks, the Jumping-jackers shoes and the Trackpack, what i can only describe as a one-piece raincoat attached to a back-pack and constructed into a shopping trolley on wheels.

Migration and Soundscape.
Sound is transmitted from a source to the surrounding air when particles vibrate or collide, and this vibration passes the sound energy along to our ears. Without any particles to vibrate, we would not hear the sound. With this knowledge, our activity explored various sounds and recorded our responses.

Sound exercise at the Design Museum

Using the learning studio, our Soundscape activity involved the use of six different sounds. Participants listened to and identified various sounds at intervals, and were asked what each sound represented to them. They could either draw or name their response, whether as a visual representation or an emotion, and the results were really interesting. Participants said they experienced various emotions, from elation, nostalgia, happiness to soothing relaxation.

The next tour:
The next multisensory event will tour the current Cycle Revolution exhibition at the end of march. This tour will examine the revolution of bicycle design, and investigate material and function. It will also include a demonstration of a bicycle for the blind and visually impaired.

More information, date and booking details will be uploaded to Design Museum’s website shortly.

MaMoMi. All rights reserved 2016.

Walking: A lifestyle?

Walking: A lifestyle? is the latest in a series of multisensory tours programmed at the Design Museum, London, and was held on Saturday 3 October.

Walking: A lifestyle?

Investigating the sense and smell of shoes and the lifestyle of walking, this tour explores the current Camper exhibition, LIFE ON FOOT, taking us through the shoe-making process before closing with a walk in the local area.

Camper: LIFE ON FOOT.
This is the first exhibition of the Spanish footwear brand Camper, who in celebrating 40 years of shoe-making in the island of Mallorca, is showcasing their traditional shoe-making skills and contemporary design practice, giving visitors an insight into the processes involved in the design and manufacture of their shoes. Laid out in 7 sections, the exhibition covers Designing, Making, Materials and meaning, Communication, History, Global and Life on foot II.

The display:
As you step through the entrance, you note the distinct smell of rubber, dominating the look and feel of the exhibition. Rubber is a key component for making shoes and black rubber was used in covering much of the display units and the activity space. The other thing you almost immediately feel is the sense of scale and height, something that was quickly noted by some of our visually impaired participants.

Camper at the Design Museum
At the entrance to the Camper exhibition.

Walking through the Designing section, the display of shoes on the left shows a range of lasts, soles and uppers, all of which are not touchable. To the right, as you go through the Making section, you note a display of tools and different materials. Along the room towards the Materials and Meaning section is a display of a variety of Pelotas, one of Camper’s most successful shoes, the name Pelotas in itself meaning ball. Uniquely, all Pelotas have 87 balls on their soles.

Several videos show the manufacturing process, with one in particular showing over forty stages of footwear production, from drawing and pattern-making, all the way to molding, kneading, stitching and packaging. An extensive display of Wabi, a pioneering shoe that explored the potential for sustainability in footwear, shows Camper’s experimentation with different materials. Cork, polypropylene, wool, mint, lavender leaf, coconut and upholstery were used as a composite to make the uppers for Wabi. Though not financially viable for the company, this was a very innovative approach to some of their design and production processes. Also on display were swatches of various types of natural and synthetic upper materials like leather and nubuck, where the different textures, thickness and weights could be felt.

Over-view of the shoe-making process:
The opportunity to review the shoe-making process was a very valuable part of this tour. Several of the participants noted that getting a better understanding of how shoes are constructed was fascinating, something they thoroughly enjoyed. Using the Activity space, we benefited from the expertise of Diana Mashigo, a Footwear designer and Pedorthist, who gave an in-depth presentation of the many stages involved in the design and making of bespoke shoes, some of which we see below.

Drawing the outline of our feet  Cast of the feet The shoe-making session Foot skeleton

Image 1: Drawing an outline of the foot is the initial stage when taking detailed measurements. Using the same principle, taking a foot print using a Harris Mat will show the varying areas of pressure on the soles of the feet, enabling a bespoke maker to create footwear specific for the users needs.
Image 2: This is a cast of a person’s foot. A bespoke last can be created from the mold.
Image 3: This was a verbal description of the importance and relationship between shoes and foot health. Here, you see two of the participants.
Image 4: The foot skeleton shows the anatomy of the foot, with the facilitator explaining how the foot functions. The lasts (the yellow and wooden foot-shaped items on the table) dictates the width, shape, heel height and size of the shoes.

The tour closed with a walk in the local area, taking-in the views of the south-side of river Thames. For many, walking is a natural part of moving around, while others include walking as part of their exercise routine. Others find walking can be great mental stimulus, sometimes taking inspiration from the views along their walk.

Whatever you do with walking, we know it is a great part of our well-being. Next time you take a walk, reflect on what it means to you, and make observations of how it influences the way you feel.

Camper: LIFE ON FOOT, continues till November 1 2015.

The next multisensory tour at the Design Museum, Displacement and Migration, is scheduled for Saturday January 9 2016, from 2pm.
Booking information will be published in Design Museum’s website Access page.

Top two images used permission of Design Museum. All other images are by MaMoMi. 2015

LIGHT, SOUND AND THE ENVIRONMENT: A new Design Museum multisensory tour

The Design Museum have designed a new series of multisensory tours and the first one in the series is scheduled to hold on Saturday 11 July 2015.

This July multisensory tour, titled Light, Sound and the Environment, will explore how light and sound have been used to identify colour, and how we in turn respond to objects and items in the built environment.

Design Museum Tour. July 2015

The Design Museum continues to offer exhibition tours to its blind and visually impaired visitors, and this multisensory tour gives the opportunity to engage with objects from the museum’s Designs of the Year 2015 and Collection Lab.

Light, Sound and The Environment takes place on Saturday 11 July 2015, at 14:00.

To book on this tour, please call +44 (0)20 7940 8782. You can also view their website for more information at www.designmuseum.org

Tours are available free of charge, including museum entry, for groups of 2 – 6. Please call to discuss any specific needs.
The tours last approximately 1.5 hours and take place in the exhibition space.
Tours must be booked in advance.

Image and information used in collaboration with The Design Museum, London.

Feel the Force Day 2014 | The Accessibility Event |

FeelTheForceDay2014

About

Feel The Force Day, Co-founded by JJ Lucia-Wright, is the world’s only film and TV conventions designed for visually impaired people, disabled people and people with learning difficulties.
Description
Feel the Force Day is an accessible film and TV event designed for visually impaired and disabled people.

Their first event, held in Peterborough in October 2013, attracted over 400 people and was the first of its kind, in the World, EVER! They continue to build their audience and had more attractions in a bigger venue for the 2014 event, Feel the Force Day: Access All Areas, which recently held on the 18th of this month. 
Star Wars actor Warwick Davis was among more than 2,000 people to attend the film and television fans’ convention. See the event featured in national media below.
Star Wars explained in touch and smell in Peterborough Event. BBC News Cambridgeshire

Each event typically includes tactile costumes, props, vehicles, TV and film related smell jars plus a few new and original ideas at each event. This year saw a remarkable turnout. See more from national media publication below.
Accessible Star Wars lets disabled Feel the Force. BBC News

Feel The Force Days encourages a fun and friendly atmosphere, so whatever your disability, get in touch and come along – carers, support workers and communication assistants will always have free entry.
 
Accessible Star Wars lets disabled people feel the force. CBBC Newsround
The 2015 event is already getting booked so check the link below for more information on booking and to contact the Feel The Force Day Team.
Book your tickets for the 2015 event, Feel the Force Day: Part III, booked for Saturday 10th of October 2015 at KingsGate Conference Centre, via this link:
Contacts
All information used permission 1st Sensory Legion, for Feel The Force Day 2014. Copyright 2014

EXPLORING ACCESS.

EXPLORING ACCESS.
Access at the Design Museum: July 2014.

The Access programme at the Design Museum offers its blind, visually impaired and deaf visitors the opportunity to explore the museum’s permanent collection or special exhibitions with highly skilled museum educators, providing detailed and engaging experience of the works on display. The Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary architecture and design, pioneering new thinking in design through its programme of exhibitions, events and learning projects.

DESIGNS OF THE YEAR 2014.
Closes on 25th of August.

DESIGNS OF THE YEAR 2014 is an exhibition that offers viewers the opportunity to review the last year in Design. Celebrating the very best across seven design disciplines, nominees were placed in categories ranging from Architecture, Product, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Digital and Transport. On show are items like the CHILD CHEMO HOUSE, KOBE in the Architecture category, through to the XL1 CAR designed by Volkswagen in the Transport category. Within these are a variety of objects and products to learn about and be fascinated by.

“These show the best of design, from initiatives in technology or materials to design that helps make life easier, safer or more stimulating. Which is your favourite nominee?” – Gemma Curtin, Curator, DESIGNS OF THE YEAR 2014.

The show is displayed on the second floor of the museum and there is easy access for wheelchair users via a lift that takes you from the ground floor. You travel through various themes like Care, Situation, Delight, Thought and Connect, with a clear view of the display and various items that can be touched.

For this publication, we will take a brief look at just a few items on display.

CLEVER CAPS

Designed by Claudio Patrick Vollers (Co-inventor & Designer) and Henry Suzuki (Co-inventor)

“Clever Caps are bottle caps which also work as building blocks. They can be collected and used on their own, but are also compatible with the world’s most popular building blocks. In this first commercial version, they were designed to fit PCO 1881 standard bottle necks, and include a tamper evident safety seal.” – Design Museum.

The Clever caps is fun, movable, changeable and adaptable. I see the younger visitors really enjoying this product.

THE SEABOARD GRAND

Designed by Roland Lamb and Hong-Yeul Eom

“The Seaboard is a reinvention of the piano keyboard, re-imagining the keys as soft waves that enable continuous and discrete real-time, tactile control of sound through three-dimensional hand gestures. The design combines contemporary minimalism and traditional handcrafted quality.” – Design Museum.

I like this one particularly because of its multisensory feature, as you play the keys through soft, silicone surface and can hear the sound through several headphones. This redesign of the piano allows a more intuitive control of the sound experience.

XL1 CAR

Designed by Volkswagen

“The Volkswagen XL1 becomes the world’s the most efficient liquid-fueled production car with an official combined cycle figure of 0.9 l/100 km (313 mpg) and an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.189. It requires only 8.4 PS to sustain a constant 100kph on a level surface in still air, a speed the car can reach from rest in 12.7 seconds.” – Design Museum.

The smooth curvaceous form and sleek lines around this car, and its aerodynamic shape, helps reduce drag and is equally good looking.

THE NEW CREMATORIUM AT THE WOODLAND CEMETERY

Designed by Johan Cesling

“Built on an undulating terrain in a wild wood section of the Woodland Cemetery, the New Crematorium features exposed white concrete and white glazed bricks in a building which is at once robust and sensitive.” – Design Museum.

The organic features of this product lends itself to greater exploration. The colour and texture of the brick used matches the building materials.

PAUL SMITH SHOP FACADE

Designed by 6a Architects.

“The cast iron used for this facade references London street furniture and creates a sharp contrast to the neighbouring Georgian townhouses. A sinuous pattern of interlocking circles puts an abstract spin on a classic Regency shape, while curved windows nod to the glass in nearby arcades.” – Design Museum.

Hidden in the facade is a Paul Smith drawing cast in the surface. This facade uses cast iron, a material with great thermic values.

Booking a tour:

To book a touch tour of this exhibition, please contact the access team via email at access@designmuseum.org or telephone 020 7148 6883.

View the Design Museum website at www.designmuseum.org

Next month, we will be reviewing LOUIS KHAN: THE POWER OF ARCHITECTURE, currently showing at the Design Museum.

 


 

Access Audience briefing.

TheDesignMuseum

The Design Museum, Shad Thames, London.

Question: Would you like to learn a bit more about museum signage and way finding?

Question: Why is it important to create a clear and concise way finding system in cultural institutions that best applies the build environment?

The Design Museum invites an Audience panel to attend a briefing on museum signage and way finding.

The plans:

Design Museum is relocating from its current location in Shad Thames, near Tower Bridge, to the former Commonwealth Institute building, High Street Kensington, in 2 years time. Current and potential visitors are being invited to find out more about plans for the new museum.

New Design Museum Time-lapse. December 2013.

Video courtesy Design Museum, London.

The museum has developed its signage and way finding strategy with consultants Cartlidge Levene. Now the museum would like to invite some of their audiences to learn what this strategy might look like and to also take questions.

Audience feedback:

The museum is running this audio-described briefing and questions session for blind and partially sighted visitors, and volunteers from the museum’s audience panels. The session will be held at the current Design Museum (near Tower Bridge) on Tuesday 11 February, from 10.30-12.30. Public travel costs will be reimbursed for attendees and alternative transport arrangements can be made where necessary.

If you are interested in attending or finding out more about this session please contact access@designmuseum.org or telephone 020 7148 6883.

The aim is for a cross section of participants and these sessions have a limited capacity so do respond quickly if you’re interested. Please get back to the Access team by Wednesday 5 February.

Image

Image Designworkplan, Netherlands.

Audience Integration in Public Arts venues: Accessibility.

Image

Supporting Accessibility in our various communities and amongst diverse interests through the arts, design and other Media platforms ultimately creates a more Accessible society. 

It is a known fact that the ageing population is increasing and greater longevity plus the increased numbers with known and recognised disability means there is an urgent need to tackle some of the issues surrounding Access and Inclusion.

Attending the Audience Accessibility Models for Performing Art Spaces seminar, held at the Daryl Roth Theatre 2, East street, New York, on the 7th of October, gave me an opportunity to gain more insight into the various approaches, policies and strategies currently in place to improve Access.

This event was co-sponsored by Art Beyond Sight and the Inclusion in the Arts, and brought together recognised arts and disability experts, arts professionals, government agencies, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specialists, program directors and disability advocates, sharing best practices and resources for performing arts spaces.

______________________________________________________________________________

 Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen R. Covey

______________________________________________________________________________

It is crucial to understand exactly what is desired and what is possible as we continue to unravel some of the issues surrounding Accessibility. The above quote by Stephen R. Covey was used by Elisabeth Salzhauer Axel, founder and President of Art Beyond Sight (ABS), at the close of the seminar.

As we aspire for greater independence for our disabled community, “we all need to listen to the needs of the community and employ the various or multiple ends to fulfil these goals.” – Elisabeth Salzhauer Axel.

Below are a few excerpts and key texts taken from speakers at the seminar.

Speakers:

Julia Pinover is Senior Staff Attorney in charge of Disability Rights Advocates’ New York Office.

“Many of our public accommodation breaks the law by not providing effective communication and suitable seating arrangement.”

The law requires that:

Sight-lines in theatre seating should be comparable to the general public;

We cannot discriminate against people with disabilities, and there are no excuses for denying or segregating them;

We cannot deny someone the right to sit in a performance;

We cannot serve persons with disability with a separate benefit not available to others.

 

John McEwen is the Executive Director, New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

“When you are developing your Access programmes, always have long-range plans.”

Access programme providers should:

Include self-assessments to assess programme, services and facilities;

Create and provide non-discrimination policies (Policy statement);

Find out what more we can do to provide a better service;

Be encouraged to create a grievance procedure to resolve any disputes;

Be encouraged to share Advisory boards across organisations (for developing plans and strategies).

 

Jason R. Mischel is currently the Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel, New York City Mayors Office for People with Disabilities.

“We need to make the experience of people with disabilities as best and full an experience as other people are afforded.”

A lot of old buildings do not have appropriate seating and many have very poor sight-lines;

There are differences in the kind of facilities needed as some blind and deaf people have a variation in the tools needed.

 

David Sweeney is Executive Director of the Healing Arts Initiative, formerly known as Hospital Audiences.

“Removing barriers can be challenging.”

Many people have compound disability;

Cultural venues who are non-responsive have incomplete conversations;

We need to remove isolations and cultural divisions;

People need Education (informed perspectives) instead of the ignorance currently observed.

 

Christine Bruno is an Actor, director and coach.

“ADA compliance does not mean the venues or cultural institutions are Accessible.”

Accessibility has to do with communication;

We all need to keep the lines of communication open.

 

Beth Prevor is the co-founder and Executive Director of Hands On.

“Access should be about Audience up, not compliance down.”

The Ethos and ideology should be about improving Access;

We need to develop a centralised calendar for Accessibility programmes;

The experience is about communicating the experience and sharing the experience.

Other speakers included Frances Black, Director of Programs at A.R.T/New York; Lisa Caring, from Theatre Development Fund’s Accessibility Programs (TAP); Heidi Latsky, Artistic Director of Heidi Latsky Dance; Rachel Reiner, Senior Manager of Membership Services and Education Programs at The Broadway League, Inc; David Harrell, Actor, Speaker and disability Advocate; and Alexandria Wailes, Actor and ASL Consultant.

In summary, is this was a successful seminar, openly discussing Accessibility and Inclusion issues, and sharing best practice in Performing Arts Spaces and other Cultural institutions. It is clear that lines of communication need to be kept open not only between public accommodation providers, cultural institutions and their audience but also within the various disability audiences.

It has been stated that cross-institutional collaborations should be viewed as key to the success of removing barriers and improving Access because relevant information, expertise and resources can be shared by all responsive institutions, which will make this knowledge readily available and shared.

There is still a lot that can be done to educate front-of-house and Museum staff, the Managers, collections Curators and Directors on the issues around Accessibility, not only in the arts but in our lifestyle choices. The policies set up by government, and the practices upheld by cultural institutions, organisations and other responsive institutions can be equally supported by front-of-house staff and their management structure.

At the end of the day, the greatest concern and interest we currently have regarding Accessibility is about Audience Integration. 

We shall continue this goal with the end still in sight.

Audience Accessibility Models in Performing Art Spaces was co-sponsored by Art Beyond Sight and the Inclusion in the Arts