Today, on International Day of People with Disabilities 2021, we are raising awareness with Recite Me of the challenges and barriers people with disabilities face in the theatre industry, and sharing opportunities available to help.
The 2021 IDPWD theme is “fighting for rights in the post-COVID era”. Since March 2020, every person has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another, but for those with accessibility barriers, this has been notably challenging.
Barriers and accessibility issues
Accessibility issues in the theatre industry impact both audiences and theatre workers. In the Theatre Access 2021 survey, published by VocalEyes, StageText and the Centre for Accessible Environments, 47% of respondents said more than half of the online theatre they encountered during the pandemic was inaccessible by failing to offer services such as audio description, British Sign Language or subtitles.
When it comes to live theatre, a recent survey by StageText revealed that two thirds of respondents sometimes find it difficult to hear what is happening and 77% were in favour of venues offering more captioned performances.
For disabled theatre workers, the access barriers can be even more challenging, particularly in the post-pandemic world. In findings published by the #WeShallNotBeRemoved campaign, nearly two thirds of respondents were worried they would have to leave the creative industries. Statistics released by Arts Council England in 2020 revealed that while disabled people made up 21% of England’s population, disabled representation at arts organisations amounted to just 6% of employees.
Accessibility tools on Get Into Theatre
At Get Into Theatre, we believe that all young people should have the same chance to have a career in theatre, including easy access to current information on training, funding, experiences, theatre job profiles and advice.
Ahmet Ahmet, Director of Get into Theatre commented…
“The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place for those lacking the tools they need to read and understand online information, this is why we have made it our mission to provide unlimited access to our current opportunities for young people who identify as disabled.”
To make our resources accessible for those with disabilities, learning difficulties, visual impairments, cognitive or neurological disorders, and those who speak English as a second language, we have implemented Recite Me accessibility and language tools on our website.
The assistive technology on our website includes various customisable options including screen reading functionality, multiple reading aids, customisable styling options and on-demand live translation feature that has over 100 languages, including 35 texts to speech and styling options.
To use the accessibility toolbar on our website, click ‘Read Aloud’ in the top right corner.
Recite Me have also put together the below video to demonstrate how these features work.
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Opportunities and support for disabled Theatremakers
While the majority of training, funding and experience opportunities on Get Into Theatre are open to everyone, we also list many opportunities created specifically to support Theatremakers with disabilities. If you are registered on Get Into Theatre, have disclosed your disability and are opted in to receive emails, you can get these opportunities sent straight to your inbox. To change your settings, log in to the website and go to ‘Your account’.
Access to Work is a government programme aimed at supporting disabled people to take up or remain at work. Find out everything you need to know about Access to Work in the theatre industry in our blog post here.
Check out our video interview with Actor Amy Trigg to find out what it is like to be a wheelchair user who has trained in musical theatre and starred in theatre productions across the UK.
Written by Recite Me & Get Into Theatre
Blog image: Alex Brenner
Published: 3 December 2021