Being disabled myself, accessibility in theatre is something that has been, and always will be of the utmost importance to me. I use my platform often to talk about how I wish theatre would change for the better, but my voice is just one in a sea of voices that deserve to be heard. Accessibility looks different for every person with access needs, which is why it's so important to listen to the adjustments that we're asking for. Everyone should have the right to enjoy theatre, and be safe whilst doing so.

I reached out and asked people with access needs to contribute a short paragraph on why accessibility in theatre is so important to them, and the individual changes they'd like to see in the foreseeable future. I loved reading everyone's contributions to this piece, and I hope you do too.

Accessibility is such an important thing to consider in theatre - just like how common disabled toilets are everywhere, accessible provisions should be equally valued to ensure that d/Deaf and disabled people can experience theatre in the same way as everyone else.

In the recent years, there has been a significant improvement in the offerings of physical access features (like step free entrances, wheelchair viewing etc) and accessible performances (not only with more captioned, audio described and signed performances, but particularly with the rising popularity of relaxed and sensory adapted performances). Hidden disabilities have been made more visible through various schemes such as the Sunflower Lanyard, but there is admittedly much more work to do in the future. I hope more access schemes in venues across the UK will allow patrons to self describe, as “evidence of disability” is proving to be challenging for some who might not have a recognised diagnosis - this might be something that Arts Council England’s upcoming new access scheme might want to consider. Accessibility for artists is just as important too, as sadly this is often ignored currently in many venues that cause much inconvenience to performers, company members and producers. With adaptations to buildings and facilities, many problems can be solved and even more productions can be staged in a wider range of venues. - Wyman at Matinee Mouse

Accessibility is so important in theatre as what is it as an art form if not for everyone? It’s a way for us to produce entertainment that can bring attention to important societal messages and so we need all of society to be able to partake in this, unless it is pointless! This means adapting theatres so accessible seating is possible all over the auditorium, making the whole of the theatre building (front of house and backstage) accessible and many more access performances(!). We also need to see more disabled stories portrayed onstage. I, as someone with TOF/OA and Scoliosis, didn’t realise the full power of representation until I saw The Little Big Things last year. I could relate to or find parts my family could relate to in almost every part of the show and it just felt amazing! However, we also need to see the industry building on the huge success that The Little Big Things has been in highlighting these issues, have more disabled actors, creatives and crew members involved in their productions. It seems that we are always seeing productions write on open calls that they are open to seeing everyone, disabled people being included on this list. Well show us then! Adapt your long-running production to accommodate disabled actors! - Benjamin at Theatre With Benjamin

Hi I'm Erin I’m 19 and I have Autism, ADHD and Fibromyalgia. I use walking aids and I am also an ambulatory wheelchair user. I have been to the theatre multiple times in my chair and my local theatre isn't the most accessible but they are really good with helping me enter and exit. The most inaccessible part is the toilets. I am unable to reach these as they are down a staircase. Many of the theatres in London are inaccessible as they have stairs to enter but the workers are very helpful when I am in my chair to help me have a great theatre experience. I am yet to go to Soho Place, which is one of the newest theatres and one of the most accessible and I can’t wait to visit. I have been to theatres with my walking aids, and they are again not very accessible but they are good nonetheless. Everyone I have met when going really helps me. I am hoping to see more accessible theatres, events and venues in the future so then theatre can be inclusive to everyone. - Erin at @erinsiandavies

I think accessibility is very important as someone with MS I can vary from day to day but there is a overarching thing of Fatigue with MS. I have found the purchase of accessibility varies from one theatre to the next. Ticketmaster you are required to purchase a ticket first then contact the venue. LW were doing access online but now it's on telephone. I find that to get access tickets doesn't allow you the same process with those needing tickets, for example losing out on recently released tickets. I think there needs to be a standardisation when it comes to access tickets for theatres. 

I find that older theatres lack the accessibility such as lifts. I think this would put many people off of having to purchase certain tickets to gain a level that doesn't require stairs. I get it's an old building but when they were built accessibility wasn't a thing and does require modernization. - at Theatre Etiquette

People may assume that the most valuable thing about a relaxed performance is the changes made to adapt the show to be more sensory-friendly, but for me, the thing that makes them so special is the community and judgment-free feeling throughout the theatre.

Theatre has always been such an important part of my life, and being able to watch a show in such a relaxed environment while sharing the space with fellow neurodivergent people makes a huge difference - we understand each other.

More needs to be done to raise awareness of access performances, but also to increase the number of access performances during a show's run. Because, believe it or not, not all autistic people, especially children, are free for the ONE relaxed Thursday matinee show during term-time! 😂 - Jack at @jackwhitetheatre

Accessibility in theatre is so important for many reasons, but at surface value - because it is a huge part of the arts and culture so, when there are no accommodations in place, so many people are missing out on a whole industry. 

Access provisions help many people in different ways, but the demographic I focus on is the disabled community. There are a host of examples where DDN artists and audiences are excluded from this sector, all of which I believe would be greatly reduced by the introduction of an access consultant

This role typically involves someone like myself with lived experience of these barriers (physical, societal, environmental, attitudinal etc.) liaising between all creative departments to ensure each element of a production is as inclusive and equitable as possible. - Katie at @katieanna.mconnell

I don't identify as disabled, but I am ND and hard of hearing so if anyone has said about having captions be WAY more common - I agree. Also, the position/use of speakers in an auditorium makes such a difference. If I'm sitting either next to a speaker or under the grand circle and the speakers are closer to the front, I definitely am hearing just bass and barely any lyrics during a song. - Ryan at @ryanlenney

To everyone that contributed to make this piece possible, thank you. We can only hope we see the changes we deserve soon.

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