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 Post subject: handicapped seating
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2001 4:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 290
Location: Ontario, Canada
This issue came to my attention during a recent performance at the Hummingbird Theatre in Toronto. There are essentially two places in the house to handle wheelchairs. One is at the back of the main floor, the other is near the front of the house (back row of the "orchestra circle"). The latter tickets are of course the more expensive. There is a large aisle between the Orchestra Circle and the Front Orchestra seating (that would be me) least I think I have the terminology correct.<P>My seats are in the second row of this "block" of seating and I don't seem to have a problem seeing all of the stage. The ladies in front of me do seem to have a problem and at the last show they complained to management. Management wasn't overly kind to them - and even suggested that THEY ask the wheelchair patrons to move! There were unoccupied seats nearby, and I was surprised that there wasn't a suggestion made that the "little" ladies re-locate themselves for this performance only.<P>I had never really had to think about the issue of access in this manner wondering what other theatres do? Is it possible to maintain true equity without offending either of the parties? Are the visual barriers imposed by the tall wheelchair patrons real or perceived? <P>

 Post subject: Re: handicapped seating
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2001 5:49 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
I have seen this handled in a number of ways. One way was to have the wheelchair person transferred into an extra wide theater seat in line with other regular seats. And then the wheelchair was removed until intermission or at the end of the show.<P>Other places had the wheelchairs at the ends of the rows - or in the back. <P>I have also seen it as you are describing it. I think that seeing in a theater is always a problem for smaller people. I am not small (5'7") and I often have trouble seeing over the heads in front of me. If a fair size man sits in front of me - that's it - I can't see. <P>It seems like after all these years we have not as yet really come up with a way to solve this problem except true stadium seating. But for a performing arts theater this can skew the sight lines. <P>

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 Post subject: Re: handicapped seating
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 8:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 40
Location: New York, NY, USA
The problem with having wheelchair-bound people move into regular (even if bigger) seats is that the transfer may be extremely difficult and/or painful for the person. Also the wheelchair seating may be specially adapted to conform with special anatomical anomalies or needs that a regular seat cannot provide. Additionally, the chair may have special equipment attached (a respirator or oxygen tank, for example). Of course if the person is using a W/C merely because he/she cannot walk for long distances, a transfer could probably be accomplished without too much trouble.<P>The Met solves the problem by having seats at the back of each level that are removable. (At the back because the entrances to all the tiers except the orchestra and the family circle are at the back - so that way there are no stairs to negotiate for the back row.) That way they do not block the view of people sitting behind them, and the only people likely to be discomfited are the standees at some of the levels who lose the "wall" at the back of the last row and thus have nothing to lean on.<P>It isn't imaginary that persons in wheelchairs are higher than people in regular seats. Regular chair height is 18 inches. A average wheelchair needs to be higher because the footrests - basically in relation to the seat as with normal chair height - have to be off the ground. Because someone who has his/her own wheelchair has had it ordered and adjusted with his/her height requirements in mind, (one tries to maintain a 90 ankles, 90 knees, and 90 deg. at hips angles), so unless the person is significantly shorter than you, the person will be higher when seated. <p>[This message has been edited by Karen (edited March 04, 2001).]

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