Common Access Barriers in Arts Venues

Calling Up Justice believes in removing access barriers in visual and performing arts venues. Sometimes organizations are unaware of their access barriers. It can be very helpful to have a needs assessment organized by an outside consultant. Read below about specific deficits your space might want to alleviate.

Physical Barriers

  1. Inadequate Wheelchair Accessibility:
    • Lack of ramps or elevators.
    • Inaccessible seating arrangements.
    • Inaccessible restrooms.
  2. Poor Signage:
    • Lack of clear, easily readable signs directing to accessible entrances, exits, and facilities.
    • Insufficient tactile or Braille signage for visually impaired visitors.
  3. Limited Parking:
    • Insufficient accessible parking spaces close to venue entrances.
  4. Inaccessible Stages and Exhibit Areas:
    • Stages or exhibit areas without ramps or lifts for performers and visitors with mobility issues.

Sensory Barriers

  1. Inadequate Assistive Listening Devices:
    • Lack of hearing loops, FM systems, or other assistive listening devices for the hearing impaired.
  2. Insufficient Sign Language Interpretation:
    • Lack of ASL interpreters for performances or guided tours.
  3. Lack of Audio Descriptions:
    • No audio descriptions available for visually impaired patrons during performances or exhibitions.
  4. Poor Lighting and Acoustics:
    • Poorly lit areas and poor acoustics making it difficult for people with visual or hearing impairments to navigate or enjoy the experience.

Communication Barriers

  1. Lack of Information in Accessible Formats:
    • Absence of programs, guides, or promotional materials in large print, Braille, or accessible digital formats.
  2. Inaccessible Ticketing Systems:
    • Websites or ticketing services that are not compatible with screen readers or do not provide easy access for those with disabilities.

Attitudinal Barriers

  1. Staff Unawareness or Lack of Training:
    • Staff who are not trained to assist or are unaware of the needs of patrons with disabilities.
  2. Discriminatory Practices:
    • Negative attitudes or assumptions about the abilities of people with disabilities.

Financial Barriers

  1. High Ticket Prices:
    • High cost of tickets or additional fees for accessible seating can be prohibitive for some people with disabilities.

Social Barriers

  1. Lack of Outreach and Inclusion:
    • Inadequate efforts to engage and include people with disabilities in arts programming and marketing.
  2. Limited Program Diversity:
    • Lack of performances or exhibitions that are inclusive or reflective of the experiences of people with disabilities.

Addressing these barriers involves creating a more inclusive environment through thoughtful design, staff training, and a commitment to accessibility in all aspects of arts programming and venue management. We like to use “Disability Justice: An Audit Tool,” written by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and envisioned by Stacey Park Milbern and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. “Disability Justice: An Audit Tool” is aimed at helping Black, Indigenous and POC-led organizations (that are not primarily focused around disability) examine where they’re at in practicing disability justice, and where they want to learn and grow. It includes questions for self-assessment, links to access tools, organizational stories and more.

Search Calling Up Justice