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Accessibility at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) offers accessible services for people with various disabilities. The accessibility page on its website shows the services that other organizations could start providing. The page also shows how venues can make a public commitment to welcoming and understanding the needs of clients with disabilities.

Accessible Facilities and Equipment at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

All of the TSO’s venues offer:

  • Wheelchair-accessible entrances
  • Assistive listening devices that are loaned on a first-come-first-served basis

All venues except Massey Hall have:

  • Limited accessible seating at multiple levels
  • Barrier-free washrooms on many levels
  • Elevators
  • On-site wheelchairs

Massey Hall

Massey Hall has accessible seats on the first floor. Also, there are accessible washrooms in the basement. Patrons can reach the basement in a small lift.  If they are wishing to use this lift, they should call in advance to let staff know.

Patrons can also call in advance to reserve on-site assistive listening devices or wheelchairs. However, Patrons borrowing wheelchairs from venues must transfer to their seats for performances.

TSO website’s accessibility page provides detailed locations of accessible:

  • Seats
  • Washrooms
  • Parking

Furthermore, they even include the walking distance to each venue. Namely, it includes how many minutes away each location is.

The front of house offices of venues may be able to provide info about performance end times for patrons needing to arrange transit after events, such as TTC Wheel-trans.

Roy Thomson Hall

At Roy Thomson Hall, staff are available to help patrons with vision disabilities navigate the venue. Staff can also read info aloud or provide it in large print. In addition, the hall’s accessibility policy assures patrons that staff are happy to offer any assistance patrons might request.

Similar to Massey Hall, Roy Thomson Hall also offer Obus Forme back supports that patrons can reserve in advance.

Koerner Hall

Koerner Hall has an accessible ticket counter to better serve patrons who use wheelchairs.

Support Persons and Service Animals

All venues welcome service animals and offer half-price discounts for support persons.

Website Accessibility

The website also includes a section on its commitment to comply with WCAG standards. It informs patrons that some elements of the site, such as email sign-up and ticket purchase, are not accessible because they are provided by third-party software. However, the policy encourages patrons to contact the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for help accessing these services.

Many other venues in the city and the province offer similar services, including:

  • Wheelchairs and assistive listening devices on loan
  • Accessible parking, entrances, seats and washrooms

Some venues even offer additional services, such as:

  • Free entry to support persons through the Access2 program
  • Programs in Braille, in large print, or for download to read in advance
  • Staff at all venues trained to offer similar services, such as guiding
  • Relaxed performances for patrons with sensory processing disorders and other impairments

However, this webpage’s details and the tone of its policy set it apart as an example for other venues. It clearly lists all its services on a website that is easy to use. The webpage goes into detail about exactly where every accessible seat and washroom can be found. It also informs you of exactly where and how far away accessible parking is.

When the organization falls short of full accessibility, it admits these shortcomings instead of ignoring them to focus on successes. Then, the orchestra offers other ways that patrons can access services.

Finally, the coverage of the page creates a welcoming atmosphere. Patrons can feel that staff will understand what their needs are and will be willing to ensure that those needs are met.

The Experience

Patrons at these venues do not need to worry about how they will move around the building, wonder what elements of the music other patrons are hearing that they are not, or spend intermission wandering from floor to floor in search of washrooms they can use. They can simply enjoy the experience, which is the ultimate goal that good accessibility should strive for.