Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba (AANM) is proud to announce the completion of a new Accessibility Audit for Arts Venues. This audit differs from other as it was completely informed and created by the disability community. The disability community strongly feels that the true experts of disability and necessary accommodations are those who live with disabilities every day, not doctors, architects or other professionals.
During the summer of 2021, AANM held community consultations to create the audit. During three community consultations with over forty individuals who identify as Deaf and/or disabled, AANM was able to identify the major barriers that these artists and patrons face. The major barrier identified during all three sessions was a lack of staff training at venues. The consultants noted that in general staff: are unaware of available accommodations at their venues, lack knowledge of how to assist those who are Deaf and/or disabled and are not informed in disability protocols. For example, when an individual with a disability utilizes an attendant, staff will often ask questions to the attendant that should be addressed to the individual.
In total there are 175 point to consider in the accessibility audit. The audit will not only be used to evaluate a venues front of house, but also performance areas, back of house, administration spaces as well as their digital programming, websites and social media platforms. During the next year AANM plans to visit 50 art venues across Winnipeg to evaluate their spaces. Once the evaluations have been complete, venues will receive notes and recommendations to improve their spaces to be more accessible. As the audits occur, AANM hopes to create a relationship with the audited venues to provide resources and supports to help them as they improve their spaces. Once any changes occur AANM will return to those venues to witness the changes and update their information in the database.
The data collected will be complied into an online, easy-to-use, searchable database which the Deaf and/or disability community can access. The database will be available to view on AANM’s website.
The audit is available for anyone to download and use. We strongly feel that this audit will be useful for organizations beyond Manitoba or those that are not arts based to evaluate their spaces.