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 theatre can include and involve more audiences?

Making your art accessible goes beyond offering an accessible performances and specialized performance. 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 to navigate from parking to accessible entrance?
  • 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)?
  • Is 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?


  • 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? Carpet? Is the carpet flat? Glare? Non-slip?
  • Are there obstacles?
  • Do your steps have a tactile edge? 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? Ticket purchase? First come first serve? 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?


  • Where are they located within the building? How many washrooms are available? What is the gender assignment of the washrooms, if any?
  • Are they independent or in a stalled room?
  • Is the bathroom publicly available without a key/code?
  • Is there signage for accessible washrooms?
  • Is the door automatic? Lever door handles? Specify.
  • 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?
  • Light switch <5' from ground? Location?
  • 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

  • Is there signage?
  • Will Assistive Listening Devices be available?
  • ASL interpretation?
  • Audio Description?
  • Live captioning?
  • Will wifi be in the room?
  • Will cell phones be in the room?

  • Are there Public Telephones?
  • 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 high enough for a person in a seated position to use them?

  • Are there alternatives to fluorescent lights?
  • Where are Bank Machines?
  • Is the place scent free or 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?

Adding accessibility information to your website and event listings is important, but also onsite signage is very important. Be sure your events also 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.
  • Beyond Compliance: Accessibility Self-Assessment Tool for Organizations that provides information on what you can do to go beyond compliance with Ontario’s accessibility laws and create a more accessible organization.
  • Unlimited Impact UK A 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.
  • 6 Degrees: A global act and conversation on inclusion. This organization puts on a 3-day conference in Toronto about how to be a more engaged and inclusive arts organization and they reach out to parties across the globe.
  • 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.

This page was last updated on July 1 2018