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Audience Accessibility

You've made the art, but is your art accessible to people with disabilities? How can producing considerations alter the artistic landscape so that performance can include and involve more audiences?

Making your art accessible goes beyond offering accessible performances and specialized performances. Here are some (but not all) of the considerations you should make when looking at accessibility for your event/production:

Accessible Website

Getting there

  • Is there parking? Where is it located? Is accessible parking close by with adjoining curb cuts?
  • How can audiences navigate from parking to accessible entrances?
  • Is transit accessible?
  • Where is the closest transit to the accessible entrance?
  • Is the nearest subway station wheelchair accessible?
  • What are the route numbers or specific address instructions to give taxis or drop-off public transportation services?

Exterior Access

  • Are there grates or slots more than 1/2" wide?
  • Are there ramps? Where are they? What is the gradient (no more than 1:12)?
  • Are the exterior, hallways and main rooms well lit?
  • Is there an accessible entrance?
  • Is the door at least 32” wide? Is it automatic?
  • Is there a step or lip to get into the building? If so, how high is it?

Elevators/Lifts/Escalators/Stairs

  • Do you have a lift? Is the size at least 32"W x 48"L?
  • Can lift be operated without assistance? Is someone available to assist?
  • Do you have an elevator? Is the size at least 5’ X 5’?
  • Is the threshold no greater than ½”? Many wheelchairs can't get over a lip over ½”.
  • Do the doors or compartments open at least 33 3/4” wide?
  • Are the elevator call buttons at a reasonable height (35” - 54” above floor)?
  • Are the call buttons tactile or brailed?
  • Are there audible signals when elevator call is answered, or audible signals for direction?
  • How many stairs are there? Are there handrails? On which sides?
  • What is the step height and depth?
  • Are there non-slip surfaces? Are there contrast lines?

Interior Access

  • Are the hallways at least 36” wide?
  • Are there interior doors to navigate? Are they automated? Are they at least 33 3/4" wide?
  • What is the flooring like? (Is there carpet? Is the carpet flat? Is there glare? Is the floor non-slip?)
  • Are there obstacles?
  • Do your steps have a tactile edge? Do they have glow tape or other visibility assistive measures?
  • Does your box office have signage that indicates accessibility (ie. accessible seating, service animal welcome, hearing awareness cards, etc.)

Event Seating

  • Describe the seating options. Consider seating width, armrests, folding chairs, etc.
  • How are seats assigned? Are they assigned at the time of ticket purchase or is it general admission? How does one book a seat?
  • Dimensions of seating options (floor to top of seat cushion x width between armrests or edges of seat x depth from front of seat cushion to back)
  • Are all aisles, hallways, door entrances and washrooms at least 36” wide?
  • Do wheelchair seating spaces allow people to sit with companions?
  • Does seating allow a guide dog to sit under a chair?
  • Is front row & barrier-free seating available for blind/low vision, Deaf/HoH or other people who require closer seating?
  • Is there a process to request certain seats for access reasons?

Washrooms

  • Where are they located within the building? How many washrooms are available? What is the gender assignment of the washrooms, if any?
  • Is the bathroom single or multi-stall?
  • Is the bathroom publicly available without a key/code?
  • Is there signage for accessible washrooms?
  • Is the door automatic? Does it have lever door handles?
  • Is there unobstructed internal wheelchair clearance (5' x 5') in the stall or room? give specific dimensions of room (width x depth); provide layout info include any photos, floor plans, or diagrams. What is the door width and clearance?
  • Are there support bars?
  • Is the light switch <5' from ground? Where is it located?
  • Does the sink have wheelchair clearance (30” wide X 10” deep to pipes or 20" to wall X 28” high)?
  • What type of lighting is in the bathroom?
  • Is there a changing table? Specify: location, height, length, width; baby or adult?
  • Are there sharps containers?
  • Are scent-free soaps available?
  • Is the washroom free from air "fresheners" or other scents?

Additional considerations

  • Will Assistive Listening Devices be available?
  • Will there be ASL interpretation?
  • Will there be Audio Description?
  • Will there be live captioning?
  • Will wifi be available in the space?
  • Will cell phones be present/permitted in the space?
  • Are there Public Telephones? Where are they located?
  • Are water fountains at a reasonable level for someone in a seated position to use them?
  • What Emergency Systems are in place?
  • What Food and Beverage services are available? Is there alcohol on site?
  • Describe Service Counters. Are they at an appropriate height for a person in a seated position to use them?
  • Are there alternatives to fluorescent lights?
  • Where are bank machines?
  • Is the space scent free or does it have reduced scents?
  • Are animals allowed in the space?
  • Where are the smoking areas?
  • Is there shade/shelter?
  • Are there quiet spaces?
  • Are there childcare options?
  • Are there financial access options?
  • What is the level of staff and organizational awareness on issues of accessibility?



Adding accessibility information to your website and event listings is important, but onsite signage is also very important. Be sure your events include signage to support those with accessibility needs in navigating once they arrive.

Where To Start

  • Access Ontario - resources that can help with understanding if your organization is compliant with the AODA standards, they also offer training modules and workshops to learn about how to make your workplace more accessible.
  • Demystifying Access A UK-created resource pack for demystifying access in the performing arts.
  • I can do this!: Christine Karcza's consulting services offers legislative expertise, training and tools to eliminate barriers to accessibility to promote full participation by people with disabilities.
  • Increasing Accessibility (Vancouver): Based in Vancouver, this organization is working to make theatres in Vancouver more accessible.


Creating an accessible space for audiences and artists is not the same thing. Check our page on Artist Accessibility to see what goes into creating a creative and inclusive work environment.


Created by kpalm. Last Modification: Thursday April 9, 2020 15:53:38 EDT by rachelp.