Cultural Access Network Project Hosts ADA Sensitivity Training on Accessibility to the Arts | New Jersey Theatre Alliance

Cultural Access Network Project Hosts ADA Sensitivity Training on Accessibility to the Arts

  • Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance leading the sensitivity training in front of a group of attendees from various cultural organizations in the Princeton area
    Executive Director, John McEwen during the training session

On Monday, February 23 the Alliance's Cultural Access Network hosted an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sensitivity training at McCarter Theatre Center.  The Alliance's Executive Director, John McEwen and Director of Programs and Access Coordinator, Robert Carr led the training. With a total of 75 attendees, several cultural organizations from the Princeton area were represented including the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Festival, Princeton Folk Music Society, and Princeton University Art Museum.  The evening's panelist panel was comprised of: Eve Woodman from Princeton University’s Accessibility Office; Ben and Susan Constantini, arts patrons with vision deficiency and loss; Jason Weiland, Field Representative from the NJ Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Linda Scharfman, an Eden Autism Services board member and autism activist; and McCarter’s ADA Coordinator, Janet Dickson.

The sensitivity training is an opportunity for attendees to learn from a panel of patrons with disabilities and other experts in the field on some best practices when interacting with patrons with disabilities. The attendees are taken on a "simulated tour" of the entire process of attending a cultural event in the eyes of a patron with a disability.  They are asked to imagine purchasing tickets, arriving to the venue, parking, visiting the box office and/or information center, going to the restroom, etc. After the tour, the experiences of everyone are discussed and used as a platform on how to best remedy any challenges that may have occurred.

The panel gives the attendees a first-hand account of their experiences and offers advice when encountering patrons with disabilities at their venue. The whole workshop is done in a safe environment, making all parties feel comfortable.

The session was concluded by visiting the accessibility section and resources available on the Alliance's website.

Here is a letter from McCarter Theatre Center's Managing Director, Timothy J. Shields published in Planet Princeton earlier this week.