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arts Access for people who are deaf stage, translating spoken word and and sound cues are lessened. There or hard of hearing sound effects for audience members. is usually a quiet space for people There are a range of access options to go to if they need a break and the for people who are deaf or hard of Relaxed performances theatre doors are left open. Audience hearing. Many theatres feature a Relaxed or sensory-friendly members are free to move around and hearing loop. Designed for people performances are designed for who use hearing aids, hearing loops people who may find the experience will send the sounds from the stage of going to the theatre overwhelming Companion cards directly to compatible hearing aids. or who have trouble sitting still for Companion cards are designed Assistive listening is similar to a hearing long periods. They may be of benefit for people with disability who need a loop, but instead of sending sound to to a range of people including those companion or carer to assist them to hearing aids, patrons wear a special on the autism spectrum, people with access events. Theatres that take part headset. Assistive listening usually intellectual disability, people with in the scheme will provide a free ticket needs to be booked in advance. dementia, young children or people for a companion, when a companion recovering from trauma. card holder purchases a ticket. See Many performances also include Auslan interpreted sessions. In these sessions, an interpreter stands on the In these productions, the house lights are left on and harsh lighting make noise during the performance. the web link at the end of this story for how to apply for a companion card. There’s a lot more to accessing the theatre than wheelchair accessible seating. Many people with disability or chronic illness have limited amounts of energy. For them, the time of day a performance is held can affect their ability to access a show. Matinees, usually held on weekends, are a great option for people who struggle with late nights. Not everyone can easily sit up for a whole performance, and some theatres now offer reclined seats. Another option is live streaming or videoed performances, allowing people who are housebound or in hospital to enjoy the theatre from their bed. So, next time you see an advertisement for an exciting theatre performance, don’t put it in the too hard basket. Get in contact with the theatre and find out about accessible options. www.companioncard.org.au 46 arts linkonline.com.au