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Shining A Spotlight On Accessibility In The Arts

While society collectively has made great strides in improving accessibility and supporting the needs of people with disabilities, there remains work that needs to be done. In light of World Autism Awareness Day (celebrated internationally every April 2), we want to take a moment to reiterate the importance of accessibility in building a more inclusive society. 

Accessibility focuses on granting as many people as possible access to opportunities and resources so they can live a meaningful and fulfilling life. Instead of merely acknowledging that people with disabilities have different needs, accessibility involves enacting measures that allow them to fully participate in various activities. 

Here at SRT, inclusivity is a core part of our efforts to make theatre accessible to a broader community with initiatives such as relaxed performances, closed captioning, interpreting services, venue visual stories, and audio descriptions. Previously, we’ve had Relaxed Performances for shows such as The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime as well as The Little Company shows Gretel and Hansel and Nursery Crimes.

Adapted specifically for neurodivergent audiences and for people with sensory, learning and communication difficulties, Relaxed Performances usually reduce potentially overwhelming elements such as strobes, sudden loud noises and flashing. As a result, autistic people can easily experience the magic of live theatre — the same as their neurotypical peers. 

Besides the autistic community, we also extend our accessibility measure to cater to people with other types of disabilities. We work with organisations such as Access Arts Hub and the Singapore Association of the Deaf to  make theatre accessible to the deaf community. We offer signed performances for each of our productions using Singapore Sign Language. 

In recent years, accessibility and inclusivity have come to be a focal point of discussion and development for many organisations, policymakers and donors. We strongly believe that everyone has the right to enjoy what our arts have to offer. By removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from attending performances, and going the extra mile to make adjustments, we can open our doors to welcome a diverse audience and provide an enriching cultural experience. 

Article contributed by Sreya Sanyal, alumni of The Young Company

Published on: 08-04-2021


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