Supported by funds from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council, LDC and the City of New York, Disney's hit musicals The Lion King and Newsies have joined The Broadway Accessibility/Audience Expansion Initiative, which creates collaboration between producers and accessibility specialists at all stages of production. The Initiative is a partnership between Inclusion in the Arts, a New York-based not-for-profit, and G-PASS, a service company utilizing technology from Sound Associates Inc., in collaboration with Disney Theatrical Productions. This historic Initiative provides theatre-goers with disabilities a theatre experience as complete and captivating as that enjoyed by non-disabled audience members. The services are: I-Caption for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons and D-Scriptive for blind and low-vision patrons.
I-Caption, a revolutionary text-based system by Sound Associates Inc., provides the entire script of the show – including character names – as it unfolds in performance, via a hand-held polarized video screen. D-Scriptive provides an extremely thorough audio description of a show on a hand-held unit for blind and low-vision patrons. Both services are integrated into the show's light and electrical cueing system so that the commentary keeps pace with the action onstage. These services are provided for every performance, and evolved from the Infrared Listening System, for which Sound Associates Inc. won a Tony® Award in 1979.
With the addition of The Lion King and Newsies, Inclusion in the Arts and G-PASS expand access to Broadway audiences of all ages in unprecedented ways. The Initiative is particularly proud to showcase Broadway as a welcoming entertainment option for all family members at every show.
"Here at Disney Theatrical Productions we are in the business of exceeding our guests' expectations," said Dana Amendola, VP, Operations, Disney Theatrical Productions. "This wonderful Initiative will help ensure our commitment by offering our deaf, blind and hard-of-hearing patrons an even greater opportunity to experience the magic of Broadway."
"With revolutionary new technology, we are able to introduce special accessibility services to every single performance, thus enabling children in body and at heart to enjoy these productions," states Anne Tramon, VP of Sound Associates Inc., the company that created the technology. "As a result of this Initiative, we are able to expand these services to more productions until they are, one day, standard."
"There is perhaps no stronger shared entertainment experience than seeing live theatre together," said Sharon Jensen, Inclusion in the Arts, Executive Director. "Thanks to the Initiative, now grandparents, parents and children with disabilities can all enjoy live theatre on par with the ways non-disabled audience members do. I-Caption and D-Scriptive give theatregoers of all ages – including those with disabilities – a unique opportunity to create lasting family memories. Disney Theatrical Productions consistently makes Broadway one of New York City's foremost destinations. They have extended their support by offering extraordinary accessibility for audiences at The Lion King and Newsies. In the finest of Disney traditions, cherished memories are now available to all."
Inclusion in the Arts advocates for full inclusion of artists of color and performers with disabilities at all levels of production in theatre, film and television. Our principal aim is to achieve full inclusion in American arts and entertainment so that our stages and screens truly reflect the society in which we live; where each artist is considered on his/her merits as an individual; where the stories being told are drawn from authentic and diverse experiences; and where our individual humanity can be celebrated. In 2011 Inclusion in the Arts received the Tony® Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.
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