Making Art Accessible

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (photo courtesy of T. Charles Erickson )

The word “art” encapsulates such a big world, filled with ideas, emotions and beauty. But who has access to this world? To art? Technically, we all have access. But people with disabilities may only have access to certain types or elements of art. If you were blind, you might visit a museum and have a painting described to you. You may go to the theater or a dance performance and rely on the words and the music. If you were deaf, you might attend the same performances and appreciate the costumes or the movement. Or, as a person in a wheelchair, you may see barriers to physical accessibility especially in some of the smaller, older theaters.

Fortunately, access to art is starting to evolve. Sean Forbes, a deaf musician, got hooked on music at a young age, describing it as a feeling. His goal has been to make the industry more accessible to an audience with hearing disabilities. This means vibrant music videos, signed and closed-captioned lyrics, and an emphasis on beat and vibration in his work. Artists like Forbes are making music that’s more than sound, it’s an experience.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival provides a genuine and accessible theater experience for everyone. The company offers in-theater services for people with disabilities, and is constantly looking to improve and expand. Just to give you some numbers: In 2011 the festival captioned 39 performances using a caption board, distributed 10,000 assistive listening devices, had 9 plays sign-interpreted, and audio-described 100 performances for blind and visually impaired audience members. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is now the most accessible classical festival in the country, and its members have been asked to work with theaters state-wide to increase accessibility.

Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) recently opened an exhibit displaying paintings by Judith Snow, an artist with quadriplegia. Captioned videos and photos showed how Snow created her artwork. A descriptive audio recording and a tactile book were provided to visitors who were blind – the book included Braille and raised-line drawings. This exhibit came to life for all patrons, and allowed everyone to share Snow’s work.

So how does accessibility change the art world? It allows more people to create and experience art. It encourages people to express new ideas. It allows for new voices to be heard. At the end of the day, art is the same. It is the expression of creativity and imagination. But the community of artists and art-lovers is growing; the art is evolving.

Other industries may look at the art industry as an example of what is possible, as we begin to see a more accessible world.


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Rising to the Top in Style

Photo courtesy of Total Access Co.

A great home elevator must start with well-designed inner workings to provide reliability, safety and quality performance. Like a fine automobile though, most people are also interested in the aesthetics.  After all, an elevator will be an integral part of your daily life. Savaria dealers really get that idea and are always up for the challenge of meeting their client’s ideas for customization.

Home owners with a love for interior design or those with the desire to show off their personal style may want to aid in the idea and design process. Builders may opt for a customized elevator as a unique selling feature to increase the property value of a new development.

Clint Cox, sales consultant with Savaria dealer, Total Access Co., recently worked with local builders to install two custom glass elevators. Glass can add both beauty and functionality to a home elevator.

The first project was a deluxe 2-story penthouse in Philadelphia (pictured above). Commissioned by Total Access, this elevator achieved feats of accessibility and style. The stainless steel hoistway – the space through which the elevator travels – was welded on site by the builder, positioning the elevator in the center of the suite. Enveloped by a spiral staircase, this elevator has a freestanding appearance and adds elegance and intrigue to this modern space. Frameless glass panels were added, along with a customized stainless steel keypad phone. With its sleek appearance, this developer added value to this Philly penthouse.

Next up was a beachfront property. The owners were in need of an elevator but did not want to lose their waterfront view – understandably so! Once the simple glass concept was dreamt up by Total Access and the homeowners, Savaria built the glass cab elevator. Builders then constructed a hoistway using safety glass and customized hidden wiring was installed by Total Access. Most importantly, the owners retained their beautiful view of the beach.

The complement of your ideas with a Savaria elevator makes your home uniquely convenient and luxurious.  And that’s a combination that always rises to the top.

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