Accessibility at our annual 3Arts Awards event:

Over time, as we have learned more about the needs of our audiences and the artists we serve, we have added new accommodations to the annual 3Arts Awards event. The following accommodations are now offered as a rule:

  • American Sign Language interpretation onstage.
  • Audio description: by request, live narration of visual elements onstage, conducted by a trained professional over headphones.
  • Captioning for all videos that play onstage.
  • CART Services (Communication Access Real-time Translation): instant translation of the spoken word into English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer, and realtime software. Translations are projected onscreen at the event.
  • Personal assistants: A group of five volunteers are trained and ready to assist.
  • Wheelchair seating: We select the location for the 3Arts Awards event based upon the availability of ample wheelchair seating and access to the stage.
  • Note: Building accessibility into our event has resulted in a very welcoming vibe, as well as in an audience that reflects the diversity of Chicago. Our experience also prompted us to go a step further and evaluate the accessibility of our website and online materials. We are now thinking about whether or not we need to provide both ASL interpretation and CART services at our event. We will keep you posted here as we take our next steps.

Video Captioning on our Website:

3Arts Awards videos dating to our first year are now fully captioned. We opted to create our own captions in order to avoid mistakes made by screen readers. Beginning in January 2016, all new 3AP (3Arts Projects) videos will also be fully captioned. Over the course of 2016, we will retroactively caption earlier 3AP videos. All of these videos are hosted on YouTube, which provides automatic captions using voice-recognition software. However, this service needs to be turned on and often produces errors, so we now manually edit and republish the captions using a built-in editing tool that YouTube provides. We have installed HTML coding into our site that forces these captions on at all times, rather than requiring viewers to click on the closed captioning tool (CC) embedded in the video module. We found this to be a fairly easy and cost-effective solution to ensuring that all 3Arts videos are captioned and accessible whether the service is required or not.

Services:

Below is a selection of sources for video captioning and other services and information outlets that we hope will help you augment your own efforts.

ASL Interpretation:

  • CAIRS (Central Area Interpreter Referral Service): Locate and hire ASL interpreters
  • Chicago Hearing Society: Deaf social service agency with an interpreter referral component.
  • Deaf Communication by Innovation: Chicago-area business providing interpreting, captioning, video production, and consulting services, as well as ASL instruction.

Transcription Services:

Video Captioning:

  • Amara: Website service that allows you to caption your own videos for free, or have them transcribed and captioned for you.
  • CaptionSync: website service that provides closed captioning and transcription services for a fee.
  • YouTube: If you host your videos on YouTube, you can turn on their automatic subtitling. YouTube uses voice-recognition software, so the automatic translation can be inaccurate. However, you can manually edit these and republish the corrected versions. This is what we do to subtitle videos on the 3Arts website.

Resources:

The best (unsolicited) advice we can offer you is to talk to people who are in the know about accessibility and disability culture. It was through a process of asking questions and asking for help that 3Arts developed our accessibility plan. 3Arts is also happy to be a resource.

Access Living: National nonprofit headquartered in Chicago that provides practical, direct support, and services to thousands of Chicagoans with disabilities each year, while also serving a broader national constituency through aggressive advocacy and public policy efforts.

Bodies of Work: A program of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Bodies of Work is a network of artists and organizations whose art illuminates the disability experience.

Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC): A volunteer-run group of cultural administrators and representatives from the disability community in Chicago, whose mission is to develop momentum for accessible, inclusive design of programs, physical spaces, and services for visitors with disabilities across Chicago's vast cultural spaces, ranging from museums and theaters to zoos and gardens.

  • Access Calendar: A list of all accessible programming offerings, including theater performances, touch-tour exhibits, autism-friendly events/performances, and more.
  • CCAC Resources: A comprehensive resources page that offers a variety of access-related, downloadable documents and links.

Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities: Listing of resources, services, and alerts for residents and visitors with disabilities.

Disability Resource Center (University of Minnesota): Tips on creating accessible and inclusive meetings or events. 

Disability Thinking: A weekly blogpost about disability life, ideas, identity, culture, commentary, and politics.

Disability Visibility Project: An online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture.

Easy Access Chicago: Online brochure highlighting accessible information for venues in Chicago.

Effective Interaction: Recommendations from the U.S. Department of Labor on communicating with and about people with disabilities.

Equip for Equality: The nonprofit organization that administers the federally mandated Protection & Advocacy System for the state of Illinois, serving as a legal advocate for people with disabilities and as an independent watchdog.  

Great Lakes ADA Center: Great Lakes ADA provides customized training, expert assistance, and dissemination of information with the goal of helping to achieve voluntary compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Guide to Accessible Events and Meetings: An interactive online guide to accessible meetings, workshops, conferences and other events.

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN): A national network of nonprofits for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Provides a state listing (for Illinois, see Equip for Equality). 

National Endowment for the Arts: Publications, checklists, and resources.

National Open Captioning Initiative, by Theatre Development Fund (TDF): A sponsorship opportunity for regional theatres to offer open-captioned performances.

Spacefinder Chicago: Online, searchable listing of creative workspaces and venues in Chicago; searchable criteria includes accessibility.

The Kennedy Center: Their Accessibility Office focuses its efforts on accessibility services for patrons and visitors with disabilities; professional development for cultural administrators; and career opportunities in the arts for people with disabilities.

Victory Gardens Theater Access Project: Nationally recognized model outreach effort designed to involve people with disabilities in all aspects of theater, both on and off the stage. Originally started at Remains Theatre in 1992, it transferred to Victory Gardens in 1995. Programs include artist development workshops; play development opportunities; and the “Crip Slam” series of performances, readings, movies and other events that promote, explore, and celebrate disability culture.

WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind): Credited as the most understandable source for online accessibility, WebAIM empowers organizations to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities. They provide accessibility training, accessible site certification, technical assistance, and other resources.

  • WAVE: An evaluation tool that will check any website for accessibility issue, identify them, and provide instructions on how to correct them.