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Accessibility, equity not just buzzwords in theater

First publishes in the Hanford Sentinel, February 19, 2021

The last three weeks I have been filling out paperwork for state agencies. The prevailing question from these agencies is, what is our organization doing for accessibility and equity. Fortunately, these two concepts are the core of our theater company. From the very beginning, we have positioned ourselves to promote accessibility and equity in the theatrical arts. For accessibility we are fortunate that our building location has extensive accessibility for our physically challenged patrons. The location has ample ramps to all areas. Inside the buildings, rearranging of the seating allows for a substantial number of wheelchair participants. As well, HMTC has partnered with a sign language organization to provide sign language interpreters for performances. In addition, we have three large projection screens to project literature in large lettering. The show program can be projected with scrolling actor bios. The screens can also be used for close caption during plays.

HMTC has online web accessibility. Our website provides the ability to make the web pages accessible with a text reader, magnification, readable fonts, image descriptions, highlight links, highlight headers, readable modes, text magnifier, virtual keyboard, monochrome, dark high-contrast, bright high-contrast, and enlarged curser. This accessibility also includes language translations. A viewer can choose any of 36 languages to read the web pages. This is thrilling for us for we are aware that not only are locals viewing our website, but people around the world are also accessing it.

A recent project was supported by the National Arts and Disabilities Center. This project allowed our theater company to use closed captions devises and sign language interpreters. It also allowed for pay to disabled actors used in the project. Truly, this was an honor for Hanford Multicultural Theater Company to receive this funding from a national organization. We include in our goals a commitment to promote experience, confidence, and opportunity to all people to enjoy the arts and partake in the creation of arts. Our programming goals from the very beginning of our entity has been to open our doors to all. We include in this commitment accessibility as mentioned, and equality to people of color, the racially and ethnically different, mixed raced persons, people with cultural and language differences, economic differences, intergenerational, the indigenous and tribal communities, immigrant, refugee, LGBTQ and our valued service personnel and their families. Our strong belief is that all people need to experience and partake in the arts, in a nurturing and supportive environment. HMTC commits to accessibility and equity. Our doors are open to all people. Accessibility and equity are not just buzzwords, they are needed to unite us.

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