Recite Me: Putting ramps on the moon, the challenge of getting more Deaf and disabled people into the theatre

According to the State of Play Theatre UK report (2013), 63% of the population goes to the theatre at least once a year and 26% of theatre-goers visit the theatre’s website to find out about what’s on.

However, the percentage of disabled people engaged with the arts and cultural sector (72.4%), is lower than that of non-disabled people (79.1%). There has been no specific research into web accessibility in the theatre sector, but it’s highly likely that inaccessible information is partly to blame for lower levels of engagement among disabled people.

Organisations in the performing arts sector are mostly aware of the need to ensure that venues are accessible to disabled people, and a lot of famous theatres and concert halls are physically accessible as buildings but their live performances, websites and mobile ticket apps are being overlooked.

A six-strong group of regional theatres led by the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich has created a ground breaking Arts Council funded strategic touring project “Ramps on the Moon”, and is going to turn things around. They are producing a touring programme of performances, which are inclusive and accessible for all – performers, theatre practitioners and audiences, including web accessibility.

Ramps on the Moon is creating a solid platform of career opportunities for deaf and disabled artists through a programme called “Agents of Change” ensuring that venues are committed to enforcing change on stage and off through audience development, educational workshops for teachers, and more casting opportunities for Deaf and disabled performers. Agents For Change are employed to help the venues make these changes happen.

Deaf and disabled people are firmly at the heart of this innovative project, the additional use of sign language, screen projections, and audio descriptions during performances aim to increase the overall enjoyment of the performance for deaf and disabled audiences.

Recite Me is proud to be sponsoring the Ramps on the Moon project with our cloud-based web accessibility software. Using our technology on the Ramps on the Moon website, web visitors are able to access information about the project and performances in a way that suits them.

Whether it’s changing the font size or converting the text to speech, our toolbar has a wide range of communication and language features that improve the accessibility of websites for the vast majority of visitors and especially those with a visual impairment, learning disability or difficulty.

Putting ramps on the moon might be light-years away, but an inaccessible website can be easily fixed.

This blog was written by Recite Me’s Ross Linnett. To find out more about their services, visit reciteme.com