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Creating unforgettable family moments through accessible arts experiences

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Many of Audio-Reader's programs and service focus on news and information that supports our listeners leading full, independent lives.

But a full life requires more than access to the most up to date local news or grocery store ads, it also involves experiences that bring us together as a community, and creating meaningful connections between us, and our friends and family.

This is why Audio-Reader also offers access to arts and entertainment programs for those who have difficulty reading standard print, or experiencing live arts & cultural events.

Audio Description makes live theatre accessible by providing headsets to our patrons and having our volunteers describe the visual components of the action happening on stage.

Photo shows Travis and his family with Audio-Reader staff members before the December performance of Rudolph

In December 2019, we described a live performance of the Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer at the Lied Center of Kansas. We invited patrons, friends and supporters to join us for a holiday social hour before the performance to enjoy some festive cheer.

Audio-Reader listener Travis brought his family, including his two young sons, to experience the show with him. For fun, his older boy checked out a headset too, so he could share in the audio description with his Dad.

Travis wrote to Audio-Reader after the event, and just in case there's any doubt about the value and impact of programs that make arts experiences accessible, we'll let Travis' own words set the record straight:

"Thank you to everyone for the service you provided so I could have a cherishable experience with my family. It was amazing and we learned a lot. My oldest son had the headset too and when the performance started and the describing began, he grabbed and held my hand.

"There was a point in the show when my youngest son, who was not wearing headphones, said to me, 'Dad, it's snowing!' and I said 'I know, buddy, really hard too, and they're lost' My son turned to me in surprise and asked 'How do you know?' I put the headphones on him so he could hear and he grabbed my hand and said, 'Wow, Dad!' It was then my son realized that his dad was experiencing it at the same level as him. I will never forget what he said and the excitement in his voice. I had to look at the ground because this tough Dad had a tear.

Image of a scene from the musical Rudolph, with snow falling reindeer characters on the stage

"For a brief moment in their lives they were like every other kid and their Dad was like everyone else. Their Dad wasn't different. They didn't have to fill me in on everything and we could all experience the excitement together. I was able to experience it at the magnitude that everyone else who is sighted does. I can't think of a time when my boys have had that experience. They were so proud I experienced it just like them. It was a new world for them.

"People need to do this. You will never forget it. It made me want to go back. This was my first experience and I want you to know that it won't be my last. I will never forget that day.

"There's that saying 'Don't measure life by the number of breaths you take, measure life by the number of moments that take your breath away.' That was it for me."

-  Travis S., Audio-Reader Listener

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