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When audience member Samantha Coleman sat down to enjoy a Broadway production of “Hadestown” in New York in October, she was repeatedly called out by an actor on stage for using what was assumed to be a recording device.
In actuality, Coleman – who is hard of hearing – was using a captioning device provided by the theater.
While producers of Broadway’s “Hadestown” and Jujamcyn Theaters have publicly apologized to Coleman, the incident gets at an underlying issue: theaters have historically struggled to be inclusive spaces for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
To change that, Laura Tovar, development director at the Deaf Action Center (DAC) in Dallas, said theaters need to go beyond quick fixes.
“Accommodation and disability and accessibility and inclusivity require more than just checking the box,” she said. “It’s intentionality. It’s a conversation. It’s education.”