Reps from Kennedy Center, Steppenwolf, NY Deaf Theatre and More Slated for TDF's Accessibility Symposium

Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, will host an accessibility symposium, "TDF Access for NYC Theatre" on Monday, April 24 at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street, NYC).

The goal of the symposium is to facilitate a dialogue with not-for-profit theatres in New York City on meeting the needs of the community of theatre goers with disabilities. The attendees will join TDF for a day-long presentation on accessibility best practices with guest speakers from across the country. These leaders in the field will bring to the event their years of experience and knowledge to help guide theatre companies on their journey toward maintaining inclusive theatre policies.

Topics covered will include ADA Ticketing, Sustainable Audio Description Programs, and looking at various captioning options.

Confirmed speakers for the day include*:

· Betty Siegel, Director of VSA and Accessibility, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

· Evan Hatfield, Director of Audience Experience, Steppenwolf Theatre Company

· Mark Annunziato, VP of Engineering and Operations, Sound Associates

· JW Guido, Artistic Director, NY Deaf Theatre

· Andrea Day, NYC and National Audio Describer

· Ruth Feldman, Senior Writer and Audio Description Trainer, Audio Description Solutions

· David Chu, Co-Founder, c2 (caption coalition) Inc

· Erica Foster, Operations Director/Accessibility Coordinator, Lifeline Theatre

* Additionally there will be a special address from Commissioner Victor Calise from the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.

"TDF Access for NYC Theatre's primary focus will be on helping theatres achieve sustainability in providing access for the long term rather than easy solutions for an individual performance that requires accommodation," said Lisa Carling, TDF's Director of Accessibility Programs. "The aim will be to implement ongoing services for people with hearing and vision loss as well as individuals on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, rather than assisting facilities with building design for mobility access."

In addition, TDF is accepting letters of inquiry through June 30, 2017 from not-for-profit theatres in New York City that are seeking to purchase their own accessibility equipment for audio description and/or open captioning. These grants are intended to help theatres increase their audiences of people with hearing and vision loss and create sustainable accessibility programs.

The organizations attending the symposium will be representatives from: Bluelaces Theater Company, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, c2 Caption Inc., Carnegie Hall Corp, Cherry Lane Theatre, Hands On, Hartford Stage, Hearing loss Association of America (NYC Chapter), Henry Street Settlement, Hunter College, IRT Theater, Kaiser's Room, Lighthouse Guild, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, MCC Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, Playwright's Horizons, Premiere Stages at Kean University, Queens Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, SIGN & SING, Signature Theatre, Teachers College or Columbia University, Teatro SEA, The Apothetae, The New Group, The Public Theater, The Vangeline Theater, Theater Breaking Through Barriers, Theatrical Rights Worldwide and Transport Group Theatre Company.

TAP is comprised of eight programs which make theatre going possible for young people and adults with physical disabilities, as well as individuals on the autism spectrum. It provides a full range of services, from autism-friendly performances of theatre productions; accessible seating for those with mobility issues; and open captioned, sign language interpreted and audio described performances of Broadway and Off Broadway shows for theatregoers with hearing and vision loss. TAP also trains theatres here and abroad on how to set up open captioning programs and autism-friendly shows, and offers an educational enrichment program for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision.

Theatre Development Fund was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance, and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF's programs have provided over 83 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.4 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF's membership, outreach, access (including its newly formed Autism Theatre Initiative) and education programs - as well as its Costume Collection - have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community and a 2013 Lucille Lortel honor for "Outstanding Body of Work" in support of the Off Broadway community. With the Broadway League, TDF recently launched the website, Theatre Access NYC (www.theatreaccess.nyc) which assists theatregoers with disabilities in finding accessible performances of Broadway show. To learn more about TDF go to: www.tdf.org.

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