Relaxed Performance of La Cenerentola (Cinderella): The Playhouse, Thurs May 2nd, 12:30pm

Creating Welcoming Community Spaces, Canucks Autism Network

Creating Welcoming Community Spaces, Canucks Autism Network

I was pleased to be attend a private Canucks Autism Network training session last week. It was led in preparation for a relaxed performance of the Vancouver Opera’s La Cenerentola at The Playhouse on Thursday May 2nd at 12:30pm.

To provide a comfortable space for attendees, the relaxed performance was prepared in collaboration with Canucks Autism Network.

Noted on Vancouver Opera’s website, La Cenerentola on Thursday, May 2 at 12:30pm will be performed in its entirety with the following modifications:

  • Lighting and sound cues will be softened

  • House lights will not go completely down

  • Audiences members will be allowed to leave and re-enter the theatre as needed

  • Quiet activities will be provided in the upper lobby

  • Earplugs will be made available

There are so many opportunities to modify the experience of live performances and events to make them accessible for all members of the public. However, the biggest takeaway I'll carry with me from the CAN training session was that oftentimes modifications aren't required. Rather, it's important to plan events anticipating and acknowledging the impact that certain sounds, signs and actions may have on others. Can folks who use wheelchairs see accessible seating signs, for example, or are they all positioned higher than 6 feet? Presenting accessible performances means more (and costs less) than finding alternatives for strobe lighting.

Canucks Autism Network

Canucks Autism Network

Canucks Autism Network led an event at YVR airport to teach kids what it's like to check into the airport, pass security and board a plane. The simulation included packaging liquids, presenting tickets to uniformed staff and hearing the sounds of the engines start. One of the strategies for reducing anxiety is to prepare for events by researching where you need to go, what you need to do, and the clothes you need wear. A couple of fantastic tools discussed included checklists and story books with beautiful photos and clear text.

These tools not only prepare you for the events and actions to come, they also tell the story of what you must do "so you know when home is coming," as our trainer explained. It may be difficult for live productions to consistently keep the house lights on during dramatic performances or cancel environmental sounds (like thunder), but patrons can research transportation routes, read menus and make their selections in advance. Many live performance attendees do both of those things, and that has nothing to do with autism or social cues of any kind. But by making that information available online, it allows patrons to manage their evenings as well as their anxiety.

Explore the good work being led at Canucks Autism Network, which includes private corporate training for sensitivity and awareness. As an HR professional, I've attended a number of workshops on this matter, and I was pleased with the presentation delivery and materials. I’ve known about children’s programming and autism awareness led by Canucks Autism Network, but this was the first time I learned that the organization leads corporate training focused on Autism awareness and workplace leadership. Bravo!