Accessible Performances in the New Year

When it comes to accessible performances, there is no shortage of acronyms! You may not know what they all mean, so we offer this blog as a quick opportunity to get familiar with some of the terms you will find on our new website when exploring some of the accessible theatre events coming to Central Texas in 2019.

AD = Audio Description provides narration of the visual elements— action, costumes, settings, and the like—of theater, television/film, museums exhibitions, and other events. The technique allows patrons who are blind or have low-vision the opportunity to experience arts events more completely—the visual is made verbal. This is our bread-and-butter! If you attend an audio described performance, you will probably meet Celia, April, or one of our other describers!

OC = Open captioning is also used in live theatrical productions. In this context, open captions fulfill the same purpose as their TV counterparts, displaying dialogue and sound effects as text. Open captions in theater are usually provided using a captioning unit, which is a screened device near the stage that is visible by all members of the audience. The captioning unit scrolls the dialogue across its screen in time with the performance. The availability of open captioning varies from one theater to another, so check ahead before purchasing tickets.

CC = Closed captioning and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

ASL = In the context of performances, ASL means the show will provide an American Sign Language interpreter to translate the verbal and other sonic elements for people who are deaf. Shared experience is an ASL interpreter’s ultimate goal, which is why so much preparation goes into each performance. Any time a member of the deaf community experiences the same emotion the play was intended to evoke (laughter, tears), the more it lets the interpreters know they are on target. Note: Not all people who are deaf communicate using ASL, so providing an ASL interpreter does not necessarily guarantee the show will be accessible to all deaf people.

SF = Sensory-Friendly means that a performance is tailored to people with autism or other cognitive disabilities and sensory sensitivities. Sensory-friendly accommodations may include:

  • Adjustments to lighting and sound effects that may be sudden or intense
  • Detailed information prior to your visit outlining what to expect when you arrive
  • A more relaxed theatre environment that allows patrons to move around, respond, or take a break as needed
  • Spaced out seating throughout the theatre to allow each individual/group the space they need to relax and enjoy the performance
  • A quiet space set up in the lobby for those who might want to take a break during the performance
  • Individuals are welcome to bring any personal communication devices or sensory supports they might need

What all these accommodations have in common is to enhance the theatrical experience for patrons with disabilities. Now that we have a sense of what these terms mean, let’s look at some of the shows coming to Austin and San Antonio in the New Year, which you can also find on our list of Accessible Performances:

AD Performance of “Waitress”

three waitresses holding up restaurant checks

Majestic Theatre in San Antonio
January 13th at 2pm
(Also coming to Bass Concert Hall in Austin January 24th at 8pm)
Waitress is a musical that tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl.

SF Performance of “Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly”

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio
January 14th at 12pm
Promoting eco-consciousness, earth science and tolerance of others, “Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly” is a joyful, hip exploration of the world outside.

AD/ASL/OC Performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

The Topfer at ZACH Theatre
January 30th, 7:30pm
Created by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is “the most exciting rock score written for the theatre since, oh, ever” says Time Magazine. This performance is ASL interpreted, audio described, and open captioned.

AD Performance of “Anastasia”

Anastasia singing with the Eiffel Tower in the background

Bass Concert Hall in Austin
February 14th at 8pm
Inspired by the beloved films, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical “Anastasia” is on a journey to Austin at last!

AD Performance of “Fiddler on the Roof”

Bass Concert Hall in Austin
April 4th at 8pm
A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family.

AD/ASL/OC Performance of “Matilda the Musical”

Matilda with arms wide holding a massive book over her head

The Topfer at ZACH Theatre
April 10th at 7:30pm
Take a journey through the world of the Tony Award®-winning hit, Roald Dahl’s “Matilda The Musical!”

As you can see there are a lot of shows coming up in Austin and San Antonio! Be sure to regularly check our Accessible Performances list and never miss an accessible evening of great entertainment.

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