The Festival makes theatre accessible to the sensory disabled

Accessible theatre for all. That is the decisive commitment undertaken in 2012 by Festival Internacional de Teatro Clásico de Mérida, directed by Jesús Cimarro, to which continuity is given again this year.

The 64th edition of the Festival once again will be fully accessible for people with sensory functional diversity. The Mérida company CEE Audiosigno, a member of the Extremadura Federation for the Hearing Impaired (FEDAPAS) will once again be in charge of making this edition’s performances accessible to the hearing-impaired (users with hearing-aids or cochlear implants) with an audio induction loop system and live closed captioning. For visually-impaired theatre-goers there will be an audio description service.

The audio induction loop system will be available at all the Festival performances and sessions, both at the Roman Theatre of Mérida as well as the three days scheduled at the Roman Theatre of Medellín, Cáparra and Regina. There will be a total of 50 accessible performances with this system.

The Roman Theatre of Mérida has reserved “Palco 3” (Box 3) and the “grada inferior” (lower stand) area as far as the stairs, respecting the price for those persons requiring assistance in the event of them having a lower-priced ticket. In the case of the theatres at Medellín, Cáparra and Regina, there will also be a specifically assigned area for these customers.

The audio induction loop system consists of a sound system that transforms the audio signal we can all hear into a magnetic field that is picked up by hearing-aids and cochlear implants, improving the quality of the audio and its pickup capability, as it eliminates background noise and reverberation.

People who need it are asked to let us know when purchasing their ticket, as d area a ticket the area coverage will be exclusively “Palco 3” (Box 3) and the “grada inferior” (lower stand) area, which will be marked with the hearing loop sign.

Furthermore, at this 64th edition accessibility is available at all Sunday performances (except for “Electra” on 1 July, which is a dance performance), through the live closed captioning by Smartphone, Tablet or PC, which will be accessible through a QR code provided at the entrance of the venue or at the box office. A total number of 8 performances will offer this service.

This year the conferences scheduled for the VII Encuentro con los Clásicos will also be accessible for hearing-impaired theatre-goers, and will be held from 11 to 21 July at the National Museum of Roman Art. An audio induction loop system will be installed for hearing-aid users.

Accessibility for theatre-goers with visual impairment

On the other hand, the audio description service for theatre-goers with visual impairment will also be available at the same performances on Sundays. A total of 8 performances at Mérida Roman Theatre, plus one of the performances to take place at Medellín, La bella Helena, on 22 July.

Thanks to the audio description system, theatre is accessible to blind and visually-impaired people through a communication support system that compensates the impossibility to enjoy the visual part contained in any type of message, providing sound information translating or explaining it, so the visually-impaired receiver picks up the message as a harmonious whole and more similar to how a person who can see does. The purpose is to provide information on the spatial situation, gestures, attitudes, scenery, costumes, etc. 

People who require this service must also request it at the Festival box office, as they will be able to borrow the audio description receiver. In this case the area covered will be the whole theatre, so the spectator may sit anywhere.

If performance conditions allow, blind people will be able to go on a ‘touch tour’ guided by the audio describers to become familiar with the stage, the backstage area and surroundings through a series of descriptions.

Apart from the theatre at Mérida, Medellín will also offer the audio description system for La bella Helena on 22 July.

This year, for the first time, Festival employees will receive specific training on the subject, through the part-time attendance course Sensory Accessibility at the Theatre. The aim is to raise awareness and standardize attention for visually and hearing impaired theatre-goers attending the performances.

With the implementation of these systems, which are added to the ones already existing for persons with reduced mobility, this summer the Mérida Festival will once again offer universal accessibility to everybody regardless of their disability, to enable them to enjoy the classical works.

Fundación CB