The Fringe Society is committed to increasing accessibility at the festival. Specific ways your show can be made more accessible are listed below and in the handbook for adapting a show.

Contact equalities@edfringe.com for information on how your show can be involved.

Venue accessibility

The Equality Act legislation states that service providers (in this case, venues) should make reasonable adjustments to their premises so that there are no physical barriers stopping or making it unreasonably difficult for wheelchair users or people with particular access requirements to use the services.

Check with your venue what their accessibility is, and make sure this is effectively conveyed to audiences.

Key facts
  • British Sign Language (BSL) is the sign language used in the United Kingdom and is the first or preferred language of Deaf people in the UK.
  • Action on Hearing Loss estimated that, in 2010, approximately 50,000 people in the UK used BSL.
  • Many people who do not identify as Deaf, use BSL. They can include hearing relatives or friends of Deaf people, interpreters and many others interacting with the British Deaf community.
  • BSL uses movement of the hands, body, face and head to convey information.
  • A BSL interpreter can be hired to translate or interpret your show from English for the benefit of audience members with hearing impairments.
What is required?

Most service providers will need to have seen your show beforehand to translate to BSL - ideally from a copy of a DVD, script or other recording.

What type of performances does this suit?

Different providers may specialise in particular genres. Ideally your performance will have a longer run at the Fringe to allow the provider to see it beforehand and become accustomed to timings. However there are some BSL interpreters who can work in a live, unscripted environment.

What type of venues does this suit?

This is a very flexible type of adaptation - simply requiring space for the BSL interpreter at the side of the stage during the performance.

It is important that your venue is able to light the interpreter effectively - discuss this with your venue manager when planning a BSL interpreted performance.

Resources

SASLI provide contact details for BSL interpreters throughout Scotland, by region, on their ‘Find an Interpreter’ page.

Key facts
  • Captioning displays dialogue, sound effects and off-stage noises in text format.
  • A caption unit, close to the stage, can be watched simultaneously with the performance.
  • The captions roll in time with the performance and are generated by a trained operator who is familiar with the show.
  • Audience members with learning disabilities can also benefit from the added information of captioning
What is required?

Most service providers will need to have seen your show beforehand - ideally from a copy of a DVD, script or other recording. They will then need to have seen your show in the theatre in which it will be shown at least three times, in order to work out timings. As such, you may want the adapted performance of your show to be toward the end of your time at the Fringe.

What type of performances does this suit?

Captioning is better suited to shows with longer runs. It has a greater impact on shows with dialogue or significant audio cues.

What type of venues does this suit?

Captioning equipment is large and requires setup and technical time, so this will only work if your venue has enough space for the captioning screen to be set up in front. Ensure that the equipment can remain up through other performances, or that you have sufficient time to assemble and remove the equipment for your show.

Resources

STAGETEXT is a registered charity, and a company limited by guarantee, delivering captioned performances and promoting the use of captioning in cultural venues throughout the UK.

 

Key facts
  • Additional narration for blind and visually impaired audience members
  • It is also useful to those with learning disabilities.
  • A narrator talks through the event/performance, describing what is happening during the natural pauses in the dialogue (sometimes during dialogue if deemed necessary).
  • Audience members listen to the narration track through radio or infrared headsets.
  • Visual elements of the production are translated into a format which is accessible to audience members who are blind or have a visual impairment. 
What is required?

Most service providers will need to have seen your show beforehand - ideally from a copy of a DVD, script or other recording. You will need to secure the correct equipment (microphone, transmitter and headsets).

What type of performances does this suit?

The service best suits shows that have visual elements which are integral to the plot. For example, it may not be needed if you are a one-person show with little or no set.

What type of venues does this suit?

The venue will need to have a soundproof area with good sight of the stage for the narrator to work from.

Key facts
  • Touch tours, conducted before a performance, give visually impaired people an opportunity to touch parts of the set, costumes or props involved in a show.
  • Actors and/or stage managers can be present to guide audiences through the visual elements of the production.
  • This experience greatly contributes to a visually impaired person’s understanding of the performance
What is required?

Set and props must be in place before the show to allow the touch tour to take place. Someone (ideally a trained audio describer) must be present to lead the tour and provide assistance to attendees. Other members of the production team can be available to provide expertise on the visual elements of the show.

What type of performances does this suit?

This impacts best with shows that have a visual element such as sets, costumes and props. Ideally, a touch tour will work in conjunction with an audio described show.

What type of venues does this suit?

Touch tours can be conducted in any type of venue, provided it is conducted safely. Walkways should be clear of obstructions or trip hazards, and extra staff should be on hand to assist audience members who require it.

Resources

Art Beyond Sight Collaborative is dedicated to making the visual arts play a vital role in the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired. Though focused on visual arts, their educational resources have applications to the performing arts.

Pesky People harnesses digital media, content and social networking to profile, challenge and change the lack of inclusion and access for disabled and Deaf people. A user blog post on a touch tour for the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein provides a first-hand account of a successful touch tour.

Key facts
  • Designed to make the experience of visiting the theatre and seeing a show more comfortable and fulfilling for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or learning disabilities.
  • ASD is a disability that affects how a person might communicate with and relate to other people around them.
  • Often people with autism can become frustrated or anxious when they are unable to understand the world around them.
  • Relaxed performances make allowances for some aspects of autism which can become more manifest when in a theatre setting.
  • Many of those accompanying someone to the theatre might also be under considerable stress, feeling that they are interrupting the show if the person they are with is making noise or wants to leave.
What is required?

Pre-empt frustration or anxiousness by gathering some of the audience before the show to explain what will happen during the performance. Even having the actors come on stage and introduce themselves and explain a little about the show, will be very helpful. Consider compiling a visual guide to hand out pre-show so that it may be referred to in order to lessen any stress.

Some with autism experience discomfort around sensory issues so removing or camouflaging excessively bright lights and colours, loud, sudden or sharp noises and even strong odours can help alleviate the stress associated with unfamiliar environments.

Language and communication can also be taken quite literally; phrases like ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ can be very confusing. Be wary of any communication directed solely at the audience (like the interaction during a panto) as this might be taken literally.

What type of performances does this suit?

Think of how important elements like sound, light (both too little and too much) and strong contrasting situations are to the integrity of your show. Sometimes, omitting or changing these can have a great impact. Previously performed work or well-known storylines also work best and are better attended due to their familiarity.

What type of venues does this suit?

Relaxed performances can be adapted to fit almost any venue space. 

Set aside an area outside of the performance space for those who might want to leave and return later. Ensure you have the venue on side - Front of House staff might ordinarily prevent comings and goings throughout a performance. Consider keeping the house lights up, or at half, so that the familiar is always visible.

Resources

The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts is the only national educational charity committed to ensuring that all children in the UK are inspired by the arts. Their mission is to reach out to the many children who are denied access to cultural venues.

The Society of London Theatre combines its long-standing role in such areas as industrial relations and legal advice for members with a campaigning role for the industry, together with a wide range of audience-development programmes to promote theatre-going.

The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for people affected by autism.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the UK’s leading charity offering information, support and advice to almost two million people with sight loss. Their website holds listings of audio described performances throughout the UK by region.

Artlink supports a range of opportunities for individuals to get involved in the arts: as an audience member, through arts programmes in local communities and in hospitals. Deaf and disabled audience members can use Artlink’s services to book tickets for events which meet their access requirements.