Performing arts and accessibility : Directgov – Disabled people

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

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Performing arts and accessibility

Get the most out of the performing arts, including the theatre, opera and live music. Find out about the types of facilities available for disabled customers.

Responsibilities of performance venues

Anyone who provides a service directly to the general public – including theatres and other performing arts venues – is termed a service provider. They have responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ which make their services more accessible to disabled people.

For example, they may have to make adjustments like allowing support or assistance dogs, ensuring physical access to an auditorium or providing an induction loop for a hearing impaired theatre-goer.

Facilities for disabled customers

Many venues and performing companies run schemes for disabled customers. Companions or carers, if you have one, may get reduced or free admission. At certain venues, this may be limited to particular performances.

Most venues have to limit the amount of individual facilities on offer. For example, the number of wheelchair spaces in the auditorium or induction loops available. Always check with the venue and book in advance.

Many places run special performances at certain times – for example, a play translated live into British Sign Language.

Finding out more information

As well as contacting a venue direct, there are other ways to find out more information about facilities and supported performances. Most venues in the UK have websites with specific information for disabled customers.

In London, the Society of London Theatre provides information about assisted performances and venue access on its London Theatre Guide website.

There are also several organisations which specialise in access to the arts for disabled people. 

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