Accessible Event Changers By: Shari Cooper & Linda Pelfrey

When attending events such as concerts, plays and movies, I’m always concerned that the accessible wheelchair seating won’t be as accessible as the venue thinks. Don’t get me wrong, the seating is usually pretty good, just sometimes it is difficult for the venue to look at in my perspective.

I use my scooter “Cherry” for mobility purposes.  I sit low, therefore, if a person/people stand in front of me I miss a lot of the event. Although, people standing is an issue, it’s not too bad for most of the accessible seats are set-up to have a good view of the stage.

As a person who uses a scooter for mobility, I know what accessible features I need to have so that I can enjoy an event, but I’m not aware what others with different disabilities need. With this, I decided to do a little research.

Have you ever wondered how a person who’s deaf and hearing-impaired enjoy a concert? British rock band Cold Play did and took it to another level. The amazing band offers the Silenco backpacks to their deaf and hard of hearing fans. The backpack allows music to sync through the vest, and in return, a person can feel the vibration while wearing it. Talk about some true Matrix stuff, I love this creation.

Another accessible feature being offered to deaf and hearing-impaired during events is sign language interpreters. I saw a featured story on the news of a sign language interpreter at a Snoop Dog concert and she was great! She was all into the music and even dancing. I assume when an interpreter gets into the songs he or she is interpreting, it makes the experience more enjoyable for all!

I also learned that some venues and events, such as the National Football League games, now offer people with autism noise canceling headphones, to block out loud sounds.

I thought about researching what accessible features are available to someone who’s blind and what they may need to have to enjoy an event but decided to go to my girl Linda Pelfrey.  She has experience and is an amazing blogger. Linda, the floor is yours.

Thank you for asking, Shari.

I have been totally blind since birth. As a child, I watched movies and tv shows with others describing what I could not see. Some of my favorite films were what I called “scary movies.”  I loved the old-time ones like Dracula. Unfortunately, I missed all the visual information like facial expressions and what the characters were doing. Family and friends filled in the blanks, and the rest was left to my active imagination. I would get so upset when a movie had a completely visual ending. If you are a fan of this genre, you might know what I am talking about. The movie ends with haunting music and little or no dialog.

This was before internet so I couldn’t google it.

It meant I begged my mom to stay up late with me and tell me how a movie ended. Years later, descriptive narration came on the entertainment scene. Finally, a narrator was explaining much of the action I missed as a blind kid. Sadly, not all films have accompanying description. There is still work to be done in this area.

When a film arrives in the theatre with description, I am ready to enjoy popcorn and the big screen with friends and family. We can each experience all aspects of the movie.

I wear headphones so I can hear the audio described track. The sighted person can enjoy the film without me asking “what just happened?”

Everyone has a relaxing social experience and we can have meaningful conversations about the movie as we exit the theatre.

My favorite place to see a movie is The Neon because the staff is welcoming and all about including everyone.   I wish for a day when descriptive narration accompanies all film and tv programming. Then no one will wonder about how a movie ends.

Someday, Shari and I will enjoy movies, concerts, and festivals without accessibility worries.  Then we can share a blog about our favorite snack or who gave the best performance in a movie we watched.

Sounds like a future date Linda! Thank you for breaking down accessible event changers, LP style!

In conclusion, as you can see, just because people may have disabilities, doesn’t mean, we don’t want to have fun. These accessible changers are helping us do just that and we’re looking forward to more in the future.

11 comments on “Accessible Event Changers By: Shari Cooper & Linda Pelfrey

  1. Janice on

    The theaters at The Greene and the Mall at Fairfield Commons offer audio description for their movies. And some theatrical venues offer audio description as well. I went to a performance of Pride and Prejudice at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and they offered live audio description to the person I was attending with. It was the first time she had been able to enjoy a theatrical performance in years, and it was a true game-changer for her.

    I’ve asked the Dayton Art Institute and other local venues to incorporate audio tours into their exhibits, but they are well behind the times and do not have such offerings.

    • Shari Cooper on

      Thanks for sharing information about venues that are providing excellent accessibilities features.

      I’ll reach out to Dayton Art Institute to see if providing audio tours are in their future plans for I know they’re really trying to make their venue accessible for all.

    • Linda Pelfrey on

      Hi Janice. Thank you for reading and commenting. It is wonderful that you are advocating as you are. Keep up the great work!

  2. Wendela Pelfrey on

    Enjoyed each of your perspectives. It’s a reminder that just because someone might have one type of disability (such as mobility issues), no one size fits all. It’s good to learn about multiple ways a venue can provide optimal enjoyment. It also reminds me listening and engaging in conversations with others can apply to many aspects of life in which we may think within our own context and miss the true experience of others. Thank you, Shari and Linda, for your shared experiences.

  3. Tiffany Thornton on

    Thanks for the information on the noise cancelling headphones. My grandson has Autism and this will be perfect for him and will allow him to partake in more public events. It would be great if more venues would offer a variety of tools that could assist people with disabilities. Thanks ladies for this helpful information.


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