Grand Theatre Expands Accessibility for Deaf People

Grand Theatre Expands Accessibility for Deaf People

The Grand Theatre announces expanded accessibility initiatives for Deaf and hard of hearing patrons. The Grand's commitment to offering an accessible theatre environment spans from the introduction of open-captioned performances to additional American Sign Language-interpreted performances, and from enhanced front-of-house services to productions inspired by stories about historic figures who were deaf, as well as casting that includes actors from the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

"We met with members of the Deaf community, asked a lot of questions, had incredible conversations, and from there, we determined our next steps in building a more accessible theatre environment," said Deb Harvey, Executive Director of the Grand Theatre. "We want to make more of our performances visually accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing patrons and offer the best possible theatre experience for everyone. As we roll out these new initiatives, we'll gather feedback and build that into future seasons."

New to the Grand are open-captioned performances. "Open captioning raises awareness of hearing loss, makes the production more accessible to everyone, and fosters inclusion. The Grand is to be commended for its leadership role in making not only open captioning but sign language interpretation available for its productions, blazing a trail for other arts organizations in Canada," said Toronto-based human rights lawyer and hearing accessibility advocate, Lorin MacDonald.

Building on ASL-interpreted performances offered as of two seasons ago, the Grand has committed to adding more such performances to the schedule for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. Schedules are listed below.

Casting and productions in the current season reflect a new level of commitment to accessibility. Two performances in the Grand's 2017/18 season are related to historic figures who were deaf. The upcoming world premiere of SILENCE tells the love story of Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell, who was deaf. The production will include actors from the Deaf and hard of hearing community who will be supported by ASL English interpreters Rosalie Vissers and Jude Thomas. "SILENCE presents the opportunity, under the vision of playwright Trina Davies and director Peter Hinton, to bring to our stage stories and artists that reflect our world. SILENCE is an incredible story, told by a leading creative team," said Dennis Garnhum, Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre.

The second performance is BEETHOVEN LIVES UPSTAIRS, a story inspired by the extraordinary composer Ludwig van Beethoven who became deaf in his 30s. This production will travel to schools throughout the region at no cost to the students as part of the Grand's 100 Schools program.

To enhance the front-of-house experience, staff and volunteers will be offered basic ASL training as well as insights into Deaf culture. The Grand has also purchased, with the support of Bentley Hearing Services, new wireless assistive hearing devices by Listen Technologies. And finally, the Grand will now have ASL interpreters from the community as ASL Ambassadors in the lobby to assist Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons.

This expanded program was developed based on input from a community round-table hosted by the Grand earlier this year. Over 12 organizations attended, including Community Living London, London Deaf Club, London Public Library, Western University's Disability Studies Department and the School of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Bentley Hearing Services, London Audiology Consultants, Cohen Highley, Skyhands ASL Services, Canadian Academy of Audiology, ASL English interpreters Rosalie Vissers and Angela Core, along with Lorin MacDonald, member of the Deaf community, human rights lawyer, and advocate.

SCHEDULE

Open Captioning
A CHRISTMAS CAROL | Spriet Stage Friday, December 29 at 7:30 pm
Sponsored by Cohen Highley Lawyers Saturday, December 30 at 1 pm

SILENCE | Spriet Stage Friday, January 19 at 8 pm
Saturday, January 20 at 2 pm

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS | Spriet Stage March 13 at 8 pm

ASL-Interpreted Performances

A CHRISTMAS CAROL | Spriet Stage Sunday, December 17 at 1:00pm
Sponsored by Cohen Highley Lawyers
SILENCE | Spriet Stage Wednesday, January 24 at 11:00am
Sunday, January 28 at 2:00pm
BEETHOVEN LIVES UPSTAIRS | McManus Stage Tuesday, March 13 at 10:00am
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS | Spriet Stage Saturday, March 31 at 2:00pm

Additional performances will be announced at a future date. For pricing and information on designated seating for both open-captioned and ASL-interpreted performances please visit grandtheatre.com/accessibility or contact the box office boxoffice@grandtheatre.com.

The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges the support of the 2017/18 Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group.

About the Grand Theatre:
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Deb Harvey, the Grand is a leading cultural hub proudly located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The Grand offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations and is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original homegrown stories through COMPASS, a New Play Development Program. The Grand supports educational programming and youth mentorship such as The High School Project, the only program of its kind in North America, and 100 Schools, a new community initiative that brings professional theatre to London-area schools in 2018 at no cost.

A not-for-profit regional theatre, the Grand produces and presents professional theatre on two stages: the Spriet Stage (839 seats) and the McManus Stage (144 seats). The Grand's season runs from September to May.


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