Since our founding in 1980, Wild Swan Theater has been dedicated to making all of our performances as accessible as possible.
For Audience Members who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
American Sign Language interpreting is integrated into all of Wild Swan Theater’s mainstage productions. Not only are all productions interpreted, but the signing is creatively woven into the performance, often with the interpreters playing characters. That way, Deaf audience members can always see the interpreters and action at the same time rather than having to look to an offstage signer and perhaps missing important staging. ASL may also be included in our touring productions when requested by the presenter.
Signing is important because it makes Wild Swan productions accessible individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing. It is also important because it introduces sign language to hearing individuals. Wild Swan also feels that the visual beauty of the language adds another dimension to the productions.
Wild Swan is proud of the quality of its interpreters. They are all registered interpreters and among the best in the state. They are also trained actors.
Several rows in Towsley Auditorium are reserved for Deaf audience members and their families. These designated seats are set aside for sale to these audience members when they request them.
For Audience Members who are Blind or have Low Vision
Wild Swan Theater offers two services to theater goers who are blind or have low vision. Audience members are invited to come backstage before the performance to meet cast members and for a touch tour to feel costumes, puppets, and musical instruments in order to know more about them before the play begins. Actors meet with tour participants and personally guide them around the stage, helping them learn about key visual parts of the production. The tour gives participants a chance to learn how the set is laid out so they have a physical context for experiencing the production. Hearing the actors’ voices ahead of time is also an important part of the tour, helping participants recognize character voices when the play begins.
In addition, audience members may be equipped with a small receiver and earphone which will permit them to hear a description of the sets, costumes, and action of the play during pauses in the dialogue. The describer sits in the light booth and communicates with those using the service over an electronic transmitter. This system allows audience members who are blind to have access to all the visual information expressed in a play. Users of the system are able to hear the dialogue just as the rest of the audience does. This system is called “audio-description” and is regularly used at many theaters in the United States including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
These services are free but need to be reserved in advance by calling (734) 995-0530. Wild Swan Theater gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Buhr Foundation, and the Ann Arbor Host Lions Club for providing audio-description equipment.
For Audience Members with Mobility Concerns
Excellent wheelchair seating is available for all our performances at Washtenaw Community College. Towsley Auditorium, where our performances take place, is possibly the most accessible theater in southeast Michigan. Two comfortable, spacious areas have been placed in the auditorium near the stage for those using wheel chairs or other mobility devices, and their companions. These spaces are easily accessed from exterior hallways on the side of the theater.
These exterior hallways also provide easy access to the theater for those for whom climbing stairs is difficult. Several rows of conventional theater seats are near these entrances, providing patrons with access to their seats without having to climb stairs. Seats in the wheelchair sections or near side entrances should be requested when ordering tickets.