Firstly, loving the ask a Yak video – it’s fab.
Secondly, I am working on a production that is outdoor and promenade. It’s wheelchair accessible but we want to make it accessible to people with mobility issues that aren’t wheelchair users and would love to hear your thoughts. During the performance the audience move around so there is no one space where we could put a chair that would give you a consistently good view. Any thoughts or ideas welcome 🙂
Hello Leonie! I’m Elliot from YAC 🙂
The route would have to be level access as much as possible, with clearly defined rest stops along the way. Terrain would also have to be considered to facilitate the motion of those using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
The route should also be clearly stated both before booking of the performance, and if possible once again before the performance itself. There should be access to an accessible bathroom either at the beginning or end of the performance.
Any hazards – ground water, wires, large inclines etc. should be minimised as much as possible, and preferably negated entirely.
The pacing of the promenade needs to consider that people have differing speeds of motion, if the performance is usher-led all ushers need to be informed that those with differences in their motion may take longer than expected. If the performance is timed, then extra time should be allocated to consider these differences.
Hope this answers your question!
Hi Leonie, I’m Jack the YAC
Firstly in regards to location of the promenade performance one must identify any physical or environmental barriers that may prevent audience members with mobility issues from participating and in turn correct them. For instance, if the performance is outside in a wood or park the ground underfoot may be uneven or slippy. This may be an obstacle for wheelchair users or people that use sticks or crutches. By using ramps and panels to flatten the surface this will improve the accessibility of the performance. In instances where there may be slippy surface, you could lay down matting to add more grip.
The nature of promenade performance could be tiring for those with mobility issues. So it would be beneficial to provide seating at fixed points of performance and indeed throughout to ensure that people can rest. If fixed seating is not possible, then maybe you could provide seating that can move with the promenade, like they have in the National Museum of Scotland. In addition, one may need to question how the audience view the performance; will they be taken round in groups or will members be able to go round in a free flow fashion? The latter may be more desirable as individuals with mobility issues could go at their own pace.
Finally, alternative solutions must be made to any part of the promenade experience that could potentially exclude those with mobility issues. Every audience member must be incorporated into the performance.
As a promenade performance involves the audience moving around it presents some unique challenges to a blind or visually impaired person. One of these challenges is that the person may not know where they are meant to go the solution would be to have a person who is able to guide the person to each location that they need to travel to, or provide a hand rail of some kind that guides people around the performance. Another option that could be in place to overcome this challenge is that information could be sent to the individual beforehand describing how they would navigate to and from each area that they are required to travel to. If there are bigger gaps between scenes this would help the individual a great deal as they would be able to feel confident that they are able to get to the next place with ease. It would also ensure that If they required a guide that the guide had enough time to take them to the next place and that the individual did not miss any of the performance. It would be crucial that the performance is audio described which will describe any visual elements of the show to the individual.
I would just like to add that in addition to the accessibility of the route, there are a few other things that it is important to think about when planning a promenade performance.
How does a disabled person know they can take part? – Some disabled people might assume that a promenade performance is not accessible so be clear in your promotional material.
What information is available to me? – Like Amy mentioned, providing as much information before hand is really useful. How long is the route, how level is the route, what is the surface made out of, is any of it outdoors.
What if I don’t hear well? – If the performance is outside, it might make hearing the performance even more difficult, what can be done to ensure people who are hard of hearing are still able to access it. Can they be reserved a space as near to the front as possible?
What if I need BSL? – If the performance is BSL interpreted, how can you ensure that audiences are always able to see the interpreter.
What if I feel uncomfortable or unwell, how do I exit? – Is there a way that people can exit the route half way through if they need to.