CCAC: Disability Awareness Training for Front-Line Staff

(This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.)>>LYNN: Okay. Everyone, I think we’re going to get going. I’m Lynn Walsh, one of the co-chairs of the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, we’re really excited to have you here for our second workshop. We like to remind everybody what CCAC’s mission is very simple. We want to empower cultural spaces to be accessible to all. So we hope these workshop opportunities and networking opportunities give us all the chance to move our cultural spaces forward when it comes to access and inclusion. Having said that, know at the end of this session this space is available for networking. I think we have this space ’til 5:30. The museum is open ’til eight o’clock tonight. You’re welcome to stay and enjoy. Something else that’s really important to us at CCAC is making sure that everyone knows that these workshops are considered safe spaces. We understand that we’re all at different levels when it comes to access and inclusion. Terminology changes on a regular basis. Things of that nature. So please know that the panel here will answer any and all questions. None of us will get upset if wrong terminology is used. We want it really to be safe. If you have a question and don’t know the right words, just ask the question, again, we’re all trying to learn and move forward. We are completely volunteer-run group. So we are really fortunate to have great partners that help us move forward with these workshops. So we have a few people to thank today. First and foremost, Lucas Livingston and the Art Institute of Chicago for hosting us in this fantastic space and the refreshments. We have Lucas to thank but also earnest east. We have Equip for Equality for providing the realtime captioning and special thanks to our captioner, Cathy Rajcan for being here today. And I think I have everyone. Big thanks to our facilitators. These people are going to share a wealth of information with us today. We appreciate your time and your expertise. Before we get started, we want to ask a few questions. If someone from CCAC could do some counting, if you are from a museum, can you raise your hand? We’re going to take a second to — [Chuckling] >>LYNN: Lots of museums. >>26. >>LYNN: Okay. Theaters. Zoos or aquariums? Ooh nice. Arboretums, gardens? Planetarium? Any other cultural organizations that didn’t fit into those categories? Where are you guys from? >>Newberry Library. >>LYNN: Couple more questions. How many of you are front-line staff? Still counting. >>Yep. >>LYNN: Management or above? Kind of fun to watch from up here. Okay. I think we are good to start now. I’m going to pass it over to Risa Rifkind from open doors organization. She and Rachel, Rachel Arfa from Equip for Equality are responsible for putting together today’s workshop. Welcome and Risa, it’s all you. >>RISA: Thank you. Can you all hear me? Perfect. The microphones kind of freak me out a little bit. I’m not shy, microphones just get me. I’m excited to be here. Thank you Rachel for helping me put to together. We have a great group of panelists. I’m going to let them introduce themselves and we’ll jump right into an actual presentation. Quickly I’ll introduce myself. My name is Risa Rifkind, I work at Open Doors organization. Which is a nonprofit. You’ll hear more about that after — Eric Lipp to my left, and we hope to give you a little knowledge about frontline staff training, sampling about what that entails, we’re actually going to do a little bit of the training with you. Unfortunately, we can’t do a whole training in the time allotted. But hopefully it will give you some background and some interest for you a little bit move. After the training we’re going to kind of go into the panel discussion. Open discussion with our panelists. And then also with you all in the audience. To request questions about what maybe you have heard just now or thought-provoking ideas that you had. As Lynn said, it’s an open area for you to feel free to say anything that is on your mind, any questions. So I guess that makes time — I’d love to have our panelists introduce themselves. Lynn, why don’t you start since you already spoke a little bit. And once again, we really are so excited to have our panelists here. I thank them for their time. >>LYNN: I’m Lynn Walsh, I’m from Chicago children’s museum. The manager of access and inclusion. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: I’m Jacqui Russell, the found he shall and artistic director of Chicago children’s theater and we have a project called the red kite project directed towards children with autism. >>CHRISTINA: Director of — >>KRIS NESBITT: Director of exhibits at Shedd. >>ERIC LIPP: I’m Eric Lipp, the executive director of Open doors. >>RISA: All the panelists present different kinds of accessibility that they’re viewing, different levels of it, and starting to advance. We want to showcase those different kind of levels and what to do to start and then where you can end up and what goes after that. So if Rachel’s good, we’ll go ahead and jump into the presentation. And we’ll all turn it over to Eric Lipp, as I mentioned, who is the executive direct he ever of Open Doors organization. >>ERIC LIPP: All right. Well, this is great because the room is so crowded now. And as a disability advocacy group here in Chicago and having done work with theaters and on grants and stuff, it’s cool to see so many people buying in our city, it’s wonderful. And it pays off in so many ways. It’s unique that we all sit here today with like mindedness. Because not every city has that ability. And it’s great to see that Chicago does. And it’s kind of thriving. So just as a person with a disability it’s kind of nice to see such good buy-in. I guess I’ll tell you quickly about Open Doors, because I know we’re under a time lapse. That’s why I look down at my phone so I can see the time. When I was in Berlin last year I was timing myself during a speech and my daughter started face timing me in the middle of my speech. It was so embarrassing. [Chuckling] >>ERIC LIPP: I’m not go to talk too much on the slides, I’ll tell you quickly about open doors. We’re a nonprofit based in Chicago. Used to be in Lincoln Park but we recently moved out towards owe air. Our mission is to make goods and services accessible to people with disabilities and traveling with tourism. We work all across the globe. We have a place in London right now. We do a lot of aviation, accessibility on cruise ships, museums, theaters. And we also here in Chicago I think — it doesn’t say it up there, maybe it does in the next slide — that we — we are also the — if anybody has seen those crazy taxi cabs out there, the accessible taxi cabs, Open Doors is also the proud owner of open taxis. We dispatch all those vehicles. So I have really good news for all of you. Risa here, would just love it to — any of you have needs for people who are visiting your venues or what not, we have a toll-free number and you can know that you’re calling Risa. Believe it or not. No matter who you get on the phone, they’re always not far away from Risa. And we would just love to make it so that people feel really easy in transporting to and from your facilities. We can give you information on how to contact us. But all those crazy cabs come from us. They all wear different uniforms. Yellow or checker or whatever carriage. But we dispatch them all. And Risa is actually — she runs that whole show. That’s why I keep her here. She does an amazing job running that entire system. And we can make it very easy for you to supply transportation to guests with disabilities. Moving on from that, Open Doors does a lot of other things too. One thing we do when we train — we did 485 trainings in 700 cities in 11 months for Amtrack a couple years ago. Every one of those trainings we had at least one trainer with a disability doing the session. And one of the things that we always believe really deeply is that two things really push accessibility. One is good design — which I’m not going to talk about today — but good design creates accessibility. But also language. Proper language drives accessibility. When it’s — you drive into a parking lot, and my kids don’t go there’s a handicap spot, let’s park in it. I don’t think they know what a handicapped spot is. When they go into a parking lot, they say there’s the accessible spot. Because they get the difference between a handicapped spot, my son thinks handicap is something bowling and golf. And I’m not sure my daughter knows exactly what it is either yet. But they’re learning it. Quickly learning it. But they don’t see that spot as, you know, as a handicap spot. They see it as an accessible spot. They know when we park there it makes life easier to get in and out of places, even though nowadays with the snow it’s been tough. We see accessible parking, the thought of access over handicap. Because really we interchange those so easily. We believe at Open Doors — with all the trainings we do with airlines and cruise lines and everybody and all the museum, some of them are here today — they can talk about it. Lynn, they do a great job with the children’s museum. I always put Evan from Steppenwolf on the spot. But they do a good job too. They do a fantastic job there. So what I’m going to go through — right off here, I am a he going to quickly show you how we train on language. Because it’s — as Lynn said, when we walked in, this is the safe house. So you know, we can throw the words around and ask us questions. Everybody here, Rachel, myself, we all have disabilities and we’re happy to answer questions. That’s why we do this. So if you have questions on language and you’re a little embarrassed, it’s okay. We’ll take it. It’s not so hard. So that’s what we always start our trainings with. And we start with — I don’t know if I can — too far? There we go. People first language. So if you’ve been doing anything in disability or accessibility, you have heard about person first language, keeping the person before the disability. So you know, we don’t say that — we’re not described by what we look like or our disability. So we put the person first. A lot of times we say the customer with the disability. Or guest with a disability. So we don’t refer to any type — anything other than the guest or their name. Because the truth is, that’s all you really need to refer to. Even if we’re talking about the disability in general, like seating or something, it’s obvious I say Mr. Smith here needs seating. If he’s in a wheelchair, you don’t need to say Mr. Smith who uses a wheelchair needs accessible seating, can you send him to the handicapped space? Mr. Smith needs to be seated. We know what we’re doing and our front line people know these are our accessible seats. And there’s no reason to refer to the person’s disability at all. As we wouldn’t refer to them in anything else at all. Right? Because that’s not really how we’re supposed to do it. So if we keep the person first terminology there. We also don’t try to group people that — sometimes that happens, but sometimes you say blind or the deaf. And that happens often. There’s also spelling things that you need to do if you’re going to do that like capitalizing deaf. That’s nor writing than speaking. They don’t have enough time. So these are — this is something we put out that we’ve changed actually recently because every year or so we go out to the community and we try and read things to see what is proper. And it’s not our personal feelings. We all have our own personal feelings about the language that’s used. So what we do is we put this out. I can tell you about every major air carrier across the globe uses that. I know that every cruise line uses it. And I’m sure there’s people in here that have used it before. But we try and keep it up to date. I think our most recent change was in the bottom, right, Risa? >>RISA: Second from the top. >>ERIC LIPP: Little person, little people. Don’t say midget. We used to not say dwarf. We’ve learned that’s okay to say dwarf or dwarfism. Some of these things are clinically taught to doctors in clinical ways. We don’t want to use the word mental retardation. In Gray’s Anatomy it says mental retardation. We don’t feel it’s politically correct. We aren’t going to go around doing it. It is something that people are taught and I think somewhat — that was what dwarfism was as well. That’s commonly accepted now too. But we just changed. So I will go through each one with you. I hate to do it, because it’s so long. I know I don’t have enough time. >>RISA: Why don’t you — >>ERIC LIPP: Wheelchair bound and confined to a wheelchair. Uses a wheelchair. That’s how we do it at Open Doors. Paul uses a wheelchair. Really no other way to say — you’re not confined to a wheelchair. Clearly a wheelchair is your freedom. A lot of times the media might say he’s confined to a wheelchair. But nobody is confined to a wheelchair. I promise you. Everybody likes to get out too, by the way. So… But nobody’s confined to a wheelchair. It’s a real social freedom. Some of things we don’t say are impaired. I don’t know if I have — the next one. At Open Doors we like to keep it simple. Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision. We don’t use impaired. At all. So you’re either deaf, if you’re just signing, no hearing aids — if you have hearing aids in, you’re probably hard of hearing. So either deaf or hard of hearing, or you’re blind and you see nothing. Or you have low vision. And the low vision thing is as — corrective eye wear does not get your vision better than 20/200. People go I’m legally blind. You’re not legally blind if you’re corrective eye wear fixes your vision to 2200 or better. Some people wear — still doesn’t get 20/200. You can’t just be fooled by somebody wearing glasses thinking that they aren’t blind. Because they cob blind as well. You look like indicators like canes and service animals and stuff. Things that you see often, I’m sure. I know I’m running low, so I’m going to zap through. So myths and miss conceptions. The first one is that people with disabilities make a small part of the population. We know that’s a misconception. That’s not even a myth anymore. I think in today’s society we can probably change that slide. Because I think people realize that disability is everywhere now. And we see it. And it’s not as hidden as it once was. People don’t get out much. Well, sometimes that’s true because of transportation. And that’s always the first thing — that’s why we took over the transportation in Chicago. Because we wanted to make sure our community had the opportunity to get out and come to places like your facilities. Especially if we’re here preaching you to be accessible. We have to get people there too. People do get out. Open Doors did the study that made the front page of New York Times about how much money do people with disabilities spend. We spend a lot, like 27,000 billion dollars on food, we spend tons of money. Americans with disability are too poor to be in the market. That’s not true. We know grand parents have lots of money. And we want them to come to our place, right? [Laughter] >>ERIC LIPP: And bring the whole family. There’s plenty of us out there, right? People with disabilities are not technologically save savvy. If you don’t think we’re going to your website, you’re crazy. We want to find out if you have anything before we go there. We all have access to computers now and these things [showing phone]. It’s not — it’s just an obvious thing. Be really cognizant of the fact that you have to have an accessible website. And I can stand here and talk about two hours on accessible websites and stuff. But that’s not part of what I’m supposed to do. And — but it’s really important. So think about that first and foremost. We do do those. People are — with disabilities are born that way. Less than 15 percent or so. Things happen later in life. I’m 43 now and I had my disability in 2000. I have a genetic disease that caused a tumor on my spinal cord. To remove the tumor from the spinal cord they had to sever it a little bit. And when they severed it I lost part of the right side of my body, T-4. Paralysis tarts at my chest level. I’m incomplete. My age — I don’t even need to go into this. This is a great slide because it is so the truth. By the time you reach 60 or 65, almost all the population of people who come through your doors have a disability of some sort or another. My dad is 73, I know he doesn’t fill out the census. It says oh, I have a disability. But he does. He doesn’t self identify. That’s okay. We don’t need them to. Did you when you have captioning up there, he’s reading it. Balls he can’t hear. And I guarantee you he’s reading everything you have. Because that’s what he does. And it’s obvious, but he’s not going to tell you that that’s what he needs. And so this just solidifies that even more. That the population is huge. This is really important because this is the definition of disability. And people will often ask you what the definition is. And really it’s something that substantially limits one or more life’s major activities, eating, walking, clothing, bathing, all life’s simple activities. Anything that impinges with that is a disability. So that’s kind of the overall thing. If you’re not sure if somebody has a disability or if you’re in a situation where somebody is claiming you need to perform some kind of service or whatnot, any disability is something that is — substantially limits one or more may I don’t remember life activities. I have this roll with me that I don’t have with me — an intern did it a long time ago, it has every qualified disability in the United States. I lay it right here, roll it down the center and it goes all the way to the back of the room and keeps going. There’s a lot of coverage in the U.S. with disabilities. Keep that in mind. Major types of disabilities. You probably see most of these. I think that some of the things to look out for, especially in your spaces like I said, the grandparents, people who might have multiple disabilities. As we age, our eyes, ears, backs, knees, hips, all that kind of stuff. People end up with multiple disabilities. As they age in life. Yet each disability is unique. So that’s so the truth. And any — it’s like in the disability community, we all just — that’s just a given. Because doesn’t matter if you use a wheelchair, if you have the same kind of injury, your disability is different. It’s unbelievable how they vary. But they are very original. And most of us do the AL — general body, because we’re all kind of built different. One of the biggest things is learning how to function independently. So one of the reasons my dad doesn’t self identify is because he doesn’t want to — he doesn’t want your help or doesn’t want to ask for your help. So one of the hardest things for me to overcome when I first had my disability is the — losing your independence. So keep that in mind always. You really want to — whatever you do, you really want to have your action — make it so people remain independent. I think that — hidden disabilities, really quick? Yes. No. Especially for those of you who have children. One of the big things is autism right now. Owe R Open Doors we have a thing where we take kids and their families to the airport. And with United Airlines, we take them, put them through the TSA, put them on the airplane, landing instructions, we do it all. Get searched by the TSA. All that. The kids have hidden disabilities. And just the other day something was on in an aquarium that went with a kid with a disability, running with a sea lion. Somebody sent it to me the other day. Your places are influential on these children’s lives. Their hidden disabilities, you have to keep your floor staff aware that if you see mom struggling, it’s okay to help. They’re coming there, anything — you have services, you have been trained. It’s okay to step in and ask. Can I help you? And you have a — most of you worked there long enough or you have been in this industry kind of long enough you know when a mom is there and a child might have a disability of some sort. It’s not — no good to sit around and stare at them. It’s more about being proactive and saying, hey, what can I do to help? You know, I’ll take some of it off your hands. Even if you just take the other kids away. Anything you can do to help. And hidden disabilities are really tough. You got to keep your people really up on that. One thing we train on at Open doors is the wall. We call it the W. A. L. L. Watch, ask, listen and learn. You see it happening around you. You have been in your spaces long enough, and I saw all the hands go up and there’s so many museums here. You guys have been doing this long enough to know when you see somebody with a disability. It’s okay to ask. Never hurts to ask. You don’t have to ask them about the disability. It really doesn’t make a difference to you, right? Ask them if you can help. Some people will says — be mean — I hear it all the time from employees, they’re mean, they bit my head off and I was just trying to help. There’s mean people all over the place, right? I see — I always tell the airline, if we would walk out in the concourse right now and watch people being mean to people all day long. People are demanding. So you can’t take offense to this. So you ask, you listen so that you learn. Because next thing to do is learn. Because if you listen, you will learn on how to handle it next time many and people are pretty good about telling you what they do and the don’t want. I think I’m done. >>RISA: You have another — >>ERIC LIPP: I do. A couple common courtesies. A couple that I want to make really clear. One is that assistive device as far as someone’s personal space. So it’s really not okay to lean on them, to hang on them, to — even if you’re coming down — one of the best common courtesies is to — somebody who uses a wheelchair is coming down to their level. Awesome simple thing but don’t hang on for dear life to their chair. It’s okay you come up put your hands on your legs or something. But don’t put year hand on them or their chair. But coming down to talk to them is a phenomenal thing. That’s one of those things that the ADA doesn’t talk about that. Okay? Nobody talks about when you do that, you get this kind of — you know, you get this credibility with the person that you’re not going to be able to — it’s just going to break that wall down. You know? Going to totally break it down. So you come down to their level and you don’t want to invade somebody’s personal space. You’re always like — if we’re standing in line for something and there’s a bunch much women and I just come up to you and put your hand — my hand on your purse, you’re not going to be very happy with me for just touching your purse. People — I was in line with my kids in customs and somebody hung their bag on the back of my scooter. Little red schooler. And somebody put the bag on the back of it. What do you think I did? Drove off and went to the men’s room. I had to go to the bathroom. [Chuckling] >>ERIC LIPP: Somebody stood on my scooter at Lego land to get a picture. My kids were offended. To get up maybe 2 inches. And you know so I drove off. On the back. So — another thing is just be patient. Especially for somebody with cognitive disability. Take the time. You know, especially in our — what we’re talking about here in the arts and culture. It’s really important to take time. We’re never in a hurry. Not like in the airport where we’re trying to rush people through or the cruise line. In this type of atmosphere, you should take a little extra time. Because it can be really meaningful to people. So people with cognitive disabilities, it’s good to take your time, sit down and speak to them. So I will — speak directly to the person with the disability. I think we can make all this available to you, right, Risa? >>RISA: Yeah. >>ERIC LIPP: Are all these slides going to be available to them? Some of them are going to be about in airline. This is some of our newest stuff. Children with autism. Because we’re doing this new program. I think it would be a great program for any museum or theater as well. I can tell you how we’ve done it for the airlines. And the cruise lines as well. Really simple. You can do it in anything. Brings the families out. And I know that even Lynn at Chicago children’s museum, they have a play for all. Which kind of gives people a little bit of time to learn about what they can and can’t do. It’s a great kind of program. A big community outreach too. And autism is big right now. So I’m sure you can all read those. All right. All right. So most likely you’re not going to be having somebody work for you to speaks sign language. I think it’s the third or fourth language in the United States. But not everybody who does it. When in doubt, write it out. One of the things — I’m struggling with this zapper. Going low here is the way to go. Is that correct? All right. Assisting customers with vision loss. I can tell you. So one of the things to do is especially at museums and theaters and these large spaces, stay in communication with the person and talk to them. Be descriptive about what’s around them. We find a lot of time people pick up on some things, whether a smell, we must be in the cafeteria. That means you’re on the second floor. I hear splashing, that means you’re by our main tanks. All these clues can help guide people. There it went. One of the thing toss do is don’t just touch or grab anybody who is blind or has low vision, because you don’t want to startle them. Try to get in front of them and speak to them and identify yourself. Identify who you are and what you do. That’s a really important thing to identify yourself. So people don’t feel like they’re in a threatened situation. All right. Oh, yes. So this one actually has some really meaning to me today. There was a gentleman who passed away last week. And he is from the PBA, paralyzed Veterans of America. David Fowler, from Houston, Texas. David — he is on the united — on continental airlines advisory board with me. Turned into united air linings. David is a quadriplegic from a diving accident. Went on to be an amazing Paralympic archer. He could be in archery. He was amazing. He attended like 30 of the veteran’s game. Paralyzed veterans of American’s games. Attract thousands of veterans. Dave attended 30 of them. One time we were in a little room in like the dungeons of some hospital in Texas. David had this exercise. We do it everywhere all the time now. Because it really makes it — it sends a really good message. What I’m going to do quick — I wanted to say that about David because he was a really special person to us. If you could, the person next to you, just one person’s going to have a fist, and the other one’s going to try and open it. And we’re going to give you three seconds to open that fist. And no fighting. Because we have security here at the Art Institute of Chicago. [Chuckling] >>ERIC LIPP: You ready? Set. Go. 1, 2, 3. Stop. You got it open? You did? Pry it open? >>I said here, old this. And she opened her hands. [Laughter] >>ERIC LIPP: That’s one of the best. I don’t know how many thousands of people have done this with and that’s — you win. [Laughter] >>ERIC LIPP: Anybody else? How did you get it open? >>Asked if he could open his hand for me. >>ERIC LIPP: Ah. She’s good. That’s it. Just ask. Right? Don’t trick them. [Laughter] >>ERIC LIPP: All right. Pass it on to Kris now. Or Risa. >>RISA: Thank you. Here’s Rachel. >>RACHEL: Thank you. Eric, so much for that presentation. This is a great way to kind of start the conversation. So now I’m going to turn it over to our panel and I’m going to throw out the first question. First, I would mention again — if you could mention where you work and can you talk about what kind of — what your role is, what kind of accessibility you provide and what is the issue. >>LYNN: So again, Lynn Walsh from Chicago children’s museum. I’m the manager of guest access and inclusion. And I always say I’m really proud of that fact because I know there’s very few full-time positions in cultural organizations in the City of Chicago. But I think everywhere. So I’m really proud of our organization that they have dedicated a full-time position to access and inclusion. Can’t remember what else you wanted. Is that good to start? >>RACHEL: What kind of access — can you mention what kind of access programs you provide for people with disabilities. At the museum. >>LYNN: Sure. We operate — we have a program called play for all. It is a cross departmental team approach. I manage access and inclusion, but I work with the team. Again, cross departmental team, every department within our museum. So every area of the museum hears about and has input to access and inclusion. In addition to that — I could go on and on. But in addition to that, we also offer play for all events the second Saturday of every month to families with children or the caregivers have disabilities. We open the museum an hour early. Registration is free to the first 250 people. And we also provide couple buses to groups to work with families with children with disabilities. So those preregistered families and groups can come for that first hour for free. We open to the public. At ten o’clock. Our regular hour — the play for all families are more than welcome to stay for as much of the day as they’d like. Occasionally we have special events during the play for all mornings. But really we want to offer our play for all families the same opportunities all our other visitors have. Anything that typically goes on during the day we want those same things happening during those morning events. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: Again, I’m Jacqui Russell with Chicago children’s treat tier. We have a couple programs we run for children on the autism spectrum. The first program that we launched about six years ago was a program called the red kite project. Where we create specifically theatrical adventures, as we call them for children on the spectrum. And those pieces are multi sensory interactive. And we prepare our performers as well as our staff to welcome that particular audience. And we do a lot of preparation for the kids in advance of coming. There’s what’s called a social story. So they receive a social story in advance to coming to the show. Which really introduces them to the characters that they’re going to meet. It shows them how they’re going to access the building, what their seat is going to look like, what the story is about that they’re going to be interacting with. So we often will have kids coming in holding that social story. They’ve been reviewing it in the car or on the train with their parents before they come. And then they are greeted by staff in our lobby area where there’s interactive stations for them to play with. Sometimes the kids don’t even want to come into the room, they want to just continue to interact with these particular stations. We had one station where we had a child that you could sit inside of a box and it was the box that one of the characters had come in. He was a robot. And the child didn’t want to leave the box. So we brought the box into the performance space and he watched the whole show from his box. Now we have a new show going on red kite brown box where every child get toss be inside a box. They get to enjoy the whole show from inside the box. Those are specific little adventures. They last about 30 minutes and we take in ten kids at a time. And it’s very individualized for them. We have a sort of intake where we interview the parents or the schools about each child so we know more about them. Whether they have another disability or if they’re nonverbal and we prepare each of our performers to interact better with that child. We also — in the last two years — have started offering autism ready performances of our man stage work which is a little different. And one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve specified a particular performance for those families because a lot of them — it’s about really feeling that they’re not being judged by other theater goers and especially because in a theater people feel that they need to be quiet. A lot of times kids with autism feel the need to share their thoughts and ideas as they come to them. So we want to make sure that those families feel okay about that. And so it’s a really very nonjudgmental welcoming environment. We also provide a quiet room should the kids need to go and take a break. There’s a family friendly bathroom. And we also have a lot of pre-show activities. A lot of times thee families like to arrive early. And so trying to set up a really friendly lobby space, we get lots of volunteers to come help out. And we try to make it an easy experience for everybody. They also get a social story in advance of coming to the show. I can go on and on, but I’ll stop now. That’s probably the biggest news that we do. We also have sign interpreted performances and we are doing touch tours for our kids. >>KRIS NESBITT: I’m Kris, I handle the exhibits the Shedd. We don’t have the wealth of programs that were just described but we’re beginning to embark on some — looking at some ways we can explore doing more across — a wide range of opportunities. We do offer what I would say is kind of the equivalent of a touch story. If you schedule in advance, there will be sort of a crafted sort of tour based on your — whatever your needs are. But we did as sort of embarking on that process have Open Doors come in and do a site visit and give us a report and a good conversation about directions we could go. I think in terms of our facility itself, largely we’re pretty fortunate in terms of the infrastructure that’s there. But what we’re challenged with in such an environment as an aquarium, there’s especially for guests who are blind or with low vision, some — we struggle with having — how to make that experience one of a rich experience for everybody. So that’s how we’re diving in right now. Both in terms of experientially and the — the content we’re providing, various services as well. The various expenses. So that’s kind of where we’re at. >>RISA: Thank you for that. Next we’ll segue into what our next question is. I knew you already talked about this a little bit, Kris. How you got started making your institution access many. Because we might have members in the audience who are just starting or not even at the point of starting. So I was wondering if you all can help us by answering how you got started, maybe where you got — I don’t know, funding. If you had to look for funding, how you contacted the next person. Maybe you can share one thing that we picked out that definitely works, something that you wanted to work on. >>KRIS NESBITT: I think we got started — a number of years ago some of us came to a multiple day seminar on — >>ERIC LIPP: With the Chicago community trust, Open Doors did an inclusive arts and culture project where we did four or five events in a year or so. Yeah. >>KRIS NESBITT: Then when we were beginning to address this and talk about this more again last year, we knew to kind of call a good starting point would be calling Open Doors and initiating that as well. >>ERIC LIPP: For sure. >>KRIS NESBITT: We’ve luckily been quite fortunate in terms of some of the infrastructure with the architects we have worked with and what not, have been careful to include a lot of the infrastructure that is helpful. But again, it’s a lot of times the experiential elements of things is where we struggle. One recommendation in terms of getting started is if you are going to — we had the discussions and the report and the site visit last year. But we scheduled it in a time in our annual planning and budgeting cycle where a lot of ships had already sailed, so to speak. So we didn’t allow for that time to get the wide-ranging institutional buy-in and kind of get that ball rolling in time to include a lot of the stuff that we had hoped to get going on. So that’s kind of the goal for this year, to be having those conversations so that come next quarter when things are starting to get written in — more in stone, that we’re more prepare today do that. It was kind of like a timing thing that we were kind of gung ho and then somebody said wait a minute, everybody already has their budgets filled up with some of these other elements. So… >>JACQUI RUSSELL: I don’t remember — did we ask people here if they were from education departments? People from education departments? Okay. Great. So I started in an education department at looking glass theater. And one of my jobs there was to put artists in classrooms. Working in integrated arts curriculum. And I had placed all of my artists in the programs in the schools that I was responsible for. And did not have an artist for the autism classroom. Agassiz Elementary School. I had to let the teacher know that I was not able to put an artist in their classroom that semester. And she said please, please, don’t leave us without an artist. It does so much for our kids. So by the end of the conversation I volunteered myself to be their artist. And I had never worked nor had I ever met a child with autism before going into that classroom. But I had been doing theater work and I had been — before that working with children doing wiggle worm, little town school of folk music. So I just knew I could do this. Somehow I combined everything I had ever done, went into that classroom. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. And I just — it was crazy. And I got up to leave and the teacher was like that was fantastic, we’ll see you next week. [Laughter] >>JACQUI RUSSELL: So I ended up staying there for 13 year, visiting that classroom once a week. Some of those kids that I met when they were 6 or 7 are now 22 years old. They drink beer. And they volunteer at the theater. And they’re really into the arts and I’m friends with a lot of them on Facebook. Which is also amazing. So these kids really changed my life. And as I built this theater, Chicago children’s theater, I wanted to find a way to bring them with me. I felt that they had been closed out of my life at Lookingglass outside of being in a classroom with them. So I was really inspired to create more programming for them. And was really fortunate to have a board of directors that was really supportive of that. And encouraged me to go get more training and also helped me identify funding. And so it’s just — they’ve been on the journey with us. So… that’s how I’d answer. >>LYNN: The museum, Chicago children’s museum got started in 2004. One of our interns who also happened to be one of our floor staff members simply said I think we could do more for people with disabilities. And she and I were with walking through the hall and I said what do you mean? And she said I don’t know. That’s how it all started. I sent an email out to all the museum staff saying hey, we think — it got to we, we think we could be doing more but we don’t know what. If you’re interested, come to this meeting. We had a huge response. I want to say we had over 70 people, museum staff. That told us right off the bat we were going to get support. Which was great. So we all got together in this meeting and none of us really had an idea what to do. But from those initial meetings, we realized we needed to talk to the disability community. So I think I’m jumping ahead because this is words of advice. That was one of the best things we did. We reached out to people with disabilities and asked them what more can we do. I remember making numerous cold calls — this is how I think we first met Eric Lipp, because we also called Open Doors, saying we want to be more accessible but don’t know at what to do. We want to do a survey, can you help us distribute the survey? And from that we learned families did want to come to the museum but they were afraid of being judged or wanted the quiet time. We learned a lot of things. Just as important, though, we surveyed our floor staff. We asked them one question, how comfortable are you interacting with people with disabilities. And overwhelmingly the response was I’m afraid of saying something wrong, so I’m not saying anything at all. So that too was a really big message. So I can’t stress enough the importance of finding out where your staff are in working with people with disabilities. You know, some staff might have people in the family, so they’ll be more comfortable. We were really surprised to find out at that time that a lot of our staff didn’t know anybody with a disability. Or didn’t think they knew anybody with a disability. Training, as I’m jumping ahead also, we offered several trainings that included people with disabilities. And it’s going to sound really simple. But when our staff left, they then knew somebody with a disability. And that made all the difference in the world. So that’s where we started. >>RACHEL: That was great. You all did the hard part of getting started. And you also started in different ways. You touched on training your staff. Could each of you talk about what you have done to train your staff, to make the institution disability ready? >>LYNN: Sure. So we have — we’ve been very fortunate. One of our goals from early on was to provide at least two disability awareness trainings per year to our staff volunteers, we sent invitations to our board members, anybody and everybody is welcome. In addition to offering those trainings, though, we make sure — we try to make sure each time we offer at least two sessions. A lot of our part time staff have students, they have other jobs. We want to make sure these trainings are accessible to staff as well. We try to schedule during the day. Also in the evenings. And then the type of trainings have varied over the years from everything Eric has talked about, actually Eric and his staff have done numerous trainings at Chicago children’s museum. Really got us going in that direction. From people first language, disability awareness, the history of the ADA, to really give people the background. But I think the trainings that have really helped us the most and continue to have the biggest impact are panel sessions. That at first Open Doors put together for us. A couple different times. And the panel’s made up with people with a variety of disabilities and the panel just shares their experiences. In some cases we ask the panel to specifically answer what experiences have you had in cultural institutions, what’s been good, what’s been bad. In other cases they just shared their stories and then it was that open safe place where the audience could ask any questions. And it goes back to what I said earlier, that after those sessions, our staff then knew people with disabilities. And it just amazed me the impact that had on staff. Every session we have a-had, either that night or the days and weeks that followed, I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. So that’s really a great way to go. And I’m going to brag a little bit. We were really proud of ourselves last year. We’ve created a space that people with disabilities who work at the museum, some of them with hidden disabilities, have come forward and shared that information with us. And they agreed to be on a panel themselves. So in — in several cases people that were sitting on panel were divulging their personal information for the very first time to people they work with on a daily basis. And that was really — really huge too. In some cases one person has multiple chemical sensitivities. So she has real issues with people that wear perfume. But she never shared why, she always complained about people’s perfume. And people thought quite frankly, she was a bitch. [Chuckling] >>LYNN: It took her a lot — but she got very brave and was honest when she was on that panel. And it changed everything. So I’ll stop there. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: When we do our work with the red kite project we do a lot of training for the artist and the different volunteers and staff members that have gone to interact with the kids and families. And one of the things that we’ve done is we have brought in specialists in autism from Rush hospital and from UIC. And we’ve actually let them — they — they often have great sort of overviews of what is autism and really answering all those questions for them. And so we do that. We also share really — there’s a really interesting video on line by a woman named Amanda Bags, and it’s called in my language. And it’s really fascinating. Because she is a nonverbal person with autism. But she writes and she’s really very profound. And it’s a really great kind of insight into how really brilliant she S. she’s just not communicating the way we do. And so I find it very eye-opening for people to see that video. And then the other thing that we do is we go and we visit a classroom and we actually take in some games and things that we’re going to use to interact with the kids. Oftentimes it’s the first time that any of our staff has met any person with autism. And so they’re really quite nervous. And we prepare, we prepare some games and we go in and we play and we interact with the kids. And they leave there just so excited, they know the kids’ name, they know more about them. They’re really ready now to greet them in our space. Because they have somebody in their mind that I know a person with autism now. And so I think et cetera’ really important to get out there and meet the population that you’re going to serve. And it’s really great to meet them kind of in a place where the space where they’re more comfortable and more likely to be themselves. So I think that’s a really important part of the training. And then for autism, you know, we do a lot of sort of role playing. And we actually create some kind of difficult, uncomfortable scenarios for them to sort of see how they’re going to handle it. And then give them some feedback. So better that it happens with one of us maybe than with a child with a family, and so there’s a lot of role playing and just a lot of feedback. And we also invite specialist toss come in and give us feedback in the process too. And so they’ll come in observe rehearsals and performances and give us more feedback. A lot of it is just constant interaction with one another. And — >>KRIS NESBITT: I’ve — we don’t do any specific thing. That’s — it’s all in — in kind of — what is done is done within other training mechanisms. I — I don’t personally do much with that area at all. So I don’t know from any first hand experience what’s being done. What I can share is that when we developed our whole play zone exhibit, a number of years ago — which I guess it opened around 2009 we worked very closely with Ingrid Tanex. She consults around kids with disabilities and how to make inclusive spaces and inclusive play. And we were so careful and so extensive in lots of embedded things with that exhibit space, within some of the program that was planned. Even down to closures on water smocks and how it might — lots of very, very specific, careful, careful planning around that. And then we didn’t tell anybody that any of that was there. There was a — a gap in that. And so now you go around in that space — and I know, because I was involved in that — at that stage — that there’s — there’s all this sort of hidden secrets of how this could be better. That most of our staff who — well, we don’t have a lot of staff working down there right now. But most of our staff in general doesn’t know that any of that exists. So if — if a child in a wheelchair were to want to get on our play scape there’s a transfer point embedded in that. But none of our staff who could — could really tell them unless I happened to be down there to say this is where it is. So that’s something we’re really trying to work with, what’s the best way to get that. But it was in that training gap and in that kind of continuing and making it that part of the culture is where it’s fallen — you know, it’s fallen apart. So that’s –… >>RISA: So our next question, which again, you kind of beat me too it many time, but that’s great — is when you’re challenged — I’m sure you guys are making it sound so easy and fast. One thing you realized that you wanted to do more. And then you did more. But I’m sure along the way you encountered some barriers of some point. I want to know if you can point out a few of them and how you went about handling them. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: So I would say that there’s all different kinds of barriers to doing this. I would say sometimes you’re going to find that a barrier — that we’ve had at times has been buy-in. Sometimes there’s not total organizational buy-in. This work does take a lot of attention and time. I know that sometimes there’s not total buy-in with funders. At times — you know, because you’re now talking about a smaller population that’s being served. And you know, people always think, oh, it should be so easy to get funding for that. Well, it’s not that easy because I go in and I say this work is going to take this amount of time and this amount of money. And they’re like how many kids? And I might say 200. And that seems so low to them. You know? And I try and explain that that’s going to change more lives that — what we’re going to do with those 200, possibly, probably than the 2,000 that I’m going to see in a matinee program or something. So sometimes there are barrier toss that, just getting people to recognize the value of that. And I would say that also there is sort of that barrier, that institutional memory and that constant kind of having to train and keep people up to date on what’s going on. And it isn’t — at least in my organization, it’s not really always sitting in one particular person’s job. Which I think is awesome that you have that job. Because I’ve got a person in the box office who knows something over here and someone in education. You know, where is that — does that live, and who’s really responsible for that? And so I find that there are barriers for us even just in terms of our infrastructure and our size, in terms of that. And then I would say finally that one of the barriers is really getting the message out there, getting the word out that we’re here. That this access is here to the arts. And you know, we had this autism friendly night a couple weeks ago. And it was an amazing night of theater. And we only had about 65 people there. And we really wanted to see 200 people there. And so you know, we’ve been partnering with other organization to spread the word. You know, we get a lot of support from autism speaks. And get autism society. But it’s really getting people to understand, you negotiation what you’ve done to invite and welcome them into your space. And that’s kind of for me that other — that barrier, that hurdle that we’re constantly kind of up against. >>LYNN: I say ditto to everything Jacqui has said. One of the things we’re still struggling with is getting not only the funders to understand but also our management committee, our board, that it’s — in hour minds it’s quality versus quantity. For our play for all events, woo we still are struggling to get even close to 50 percent attendance. We get tons of people registering for the events, but to actually show up is a completely different thing. In our minds we understand that particularly for families who have children with disability, you never know what a day’s going to bring. And I think that’s true of any family. Anybody who has children, you never know what the day’s going to bring. But then you add a few things on top of that, if your child happens to have a disability. So the play for all team too still struggles because we’d love to reach — we get so excited when we lit that 50 percent or maybe go over the 50 percent mark. We’re trying to figure out how to make that happen, advertising, make sure you get the word out. The other thing is that access and inclusion never ends and always changes. It’s something you have to work at on a regular basis. And a daily basis. And just keep going and going. And again, that’s what we hope these sessions will help us all do. Networking and knowing who’s doing what so we can all help each other on that. And then budget. Always budget. [Chuckling] >>ERIC LIPP: Lynn, can you talk about the paper that you — like — how it was vetted now into the program. >>LYNN: Sure. I don’t know how many years ago, several years ago the museum was going to start doing position papers. And we happened to go to the LEED conference, which write this down everybody, you should all be there, the leadership exchange in arts and disabilities conference is coming to Chicago. It’s fantastic. It’s a fantastic conference for all of us interested in access and inclusion. I’m sure as it gets closer you’re going to hear more about it. We were at an LEAD conference. We heard about position papers and the importance of having access and inclusion position paper. We went back to the museum and said we think we should do this. It just so happened that the management was considering starting a position paper project. And added access — and inclusion to the very first one. So we now have this living document that for the most part is really working. Because we’ve identified what staff can do, what the museum can do within every department of the museum to make sure their department is accessible, not only to our visitors, but also to our staff and volunteers. I’d be happy to make that available is anybody is interested. Let me know and I’ll email it to you or something. Necessary. >>KRIS NESBITT: We found to some degree, every year somebody puts together a list of notes of things that we need to do. There’s certain things, you know, if you can check it off a list and not think about it again, then those are the kind of things that we can most easily push forward. But I know when we did the seminar, the series of seminars a number of years ago, one of my colleagues and I had — I think we had nine pages of here’s things we could do. And we kind of took that around the building and tried to get that overall buy-in and to kind of push things to be more of a cultural shift. And that’s been the more difficult challenge to — for us. And I think part of it is being such a large organization and in some kind of key areas, it’s a lot of changing of — of staff changing constantly. But I know as we sort of — this keeps coming up as we sort of enter into long-range planning, long-range planning exercise. And I’m very encouraged — that people that I wouldn’t expect to be bringing this up top of mind are bringing it up more top of mind. And so I think it’s something that maybe finally we can really go to that next level, I hope. I have Miss Whole folder of all the years. And so — but I think it is — it’s more about that culture shift. I hear like speaking to your staff at the children’s — it seems like that has kind of gone to that culture shift level where it’s top of the mind for everybody. >>RACHEL: Thank you for sharing that. So the next question is now that you all provide accessibility programs, what has been the benefit to your institution of providing access? >>LYNN: That gets hard to pass it down. [Laughter] >>LYNN: You know, I have been thinking about this. I think one of the biggest benefits, all of us want to provide really good customer service. So I mean, that — this is part of it. People with disabilities are our customers. So benefit is now you can say you’re making effort to provide excellent customer service to all your visitors. You know, we have to keep in mind too that this isn’t — access and inclusion isn’t a service, it’s a right. We need to provide this. People with disabilities have the right to come to our organizations and enjoy themselves. But other benefits have been since we started play for all, the museum itself has really opened itself up and we work really hard to make sure we’re employing people with disabilities, that we have volunteers with disabilities. And as a result it’s been this great learning experience for all of us staff. Not only, again, we know all these people with disabilities, it’s been really great and we’ve had comments from our visitors that they appreciate seeing people like their children or people like themselves in the museum. And just seeing some of our staff who have come to us — we work with a great organization, Bridge, from school to work. They’re part of the Marriott foundation. And they help young people with disabilities get those first jobs or second jobs. You know, the ones that are transitioning from high school maybe and aren’t — don’t have plans for college or maybe do further down. But they’re looking for that job. One of the first people we hired through the Bridges program has been with the museum I think for over eight years now. He’s still in a part-time position. And I talk to him regularly about growing and moving on. And I don’t know if his two supervisors who are sitting here know about this, but he is getting really close to being — moving up and out of the museum to another potentially full-time position that he can be in for the rest of his life. It’s a company that he will be able to grow with and — I mean, so just — that’s a benefit too, that you’re — you’re helping people with disabilities. There’s no reason why people with disabilities can’t work for you. I mean — and I don’t know if this is PC or not but I’m going to say it. We have found particularly this employee, has the least amount of sick days out of everybody. He went years without having a sick day. He’s dedicated. He volunteers for anything. And he does a fantastic job. So if you’re not already working really lard to hire people with disabilities, you should do that too. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: I — I guess all I can say is that my salve and the people that work at the children’s theater, they will often talk about why do we do this, you know, I had — I had one actor who said to me, he said, when I first started doing this work, I thought, wow, I’m doing this work for these kids because it’s really good for them. And I’m seeing that it’s really affecting them. And then he sort of realizing as we were in the run of the show, I’m realizing that we’re doing it for the parents. And it’s really great for these parents. Like they’re having this amazing shared experience with their child. And they’re getting out. And they’re participating in something. And then he said and then I finally realized, no, I’m doing this for me. I’m the one who’s really getting something out of this. And I think that that’s how I find that most of my staff members have that incredible moment. I’ve had stage managers who have written in, in stage management reports, when they write this night made me proud of my profession. I’ve heard it from box office people, from volunteers. And so you know, we are doing a lot to reach folks that should have access to everything that’s out there. But also, it’s really — our lives are enriched. >>KRIS NESBITT: I think in terms of some of the changes that we’ve seen — for instance near our penguin habitat, previously when the building was built in the early ’90s, there were stair, two, three stairs down to the penguin habitat on I think he every access point. And when we re — renovated the oceanarium, it’s going to be tough angle-wise in a retrofit but let’s make the whole thing just ramped. And it’s now just better for everybody. Everybody who’s in there, no matter what. It flows better. It’s — it doesn’t bottle neck in the way it used to. It’s just better across the board. If you have a stroller, no matter how anybody is getting around that space, it’s just better. And I think a lot of the things that we have been able to do have been similar in that regard. It just creates a better and more open and more flowing environment. >>RISA: Not to put you on the spot, but do you have anything to add why — that makes the institution accessible, from your point of view? >>ERIC LIPP: You know, it’s just good community stuff. You know, and I think one of the things is great community outreach. So yeah. I mean, that’s one thing with that. >>RISA: Okay. So this will be our last question before we open it up to you guys to ask us questions. We gave everyone an opportunity to participate. And our last question is, any last word, any pieces of advice for an institution starting, wants to start at any level? I think we have representatives from different levels of accessibility on the panel as well as in the audience. I want to make sure that we hear everyone’s interest level. And then you can add something as well. I’m going to start with — anything like that. >>KRIS NESBITT: We’re really surprised when Open Doors came in. Somebody that we’ve always kind of looked at a just a weird, idiosyncratic thing about our flooring. That we tend to have a change in floor materials at sort of every threshold. And that’s always been kind of like — okay, this is an odd design. Element that’s throughout the building. All the additions over the years and whatnot. But we learned through this process that that can actually be something that can be documented and be a real advantage, which had — just was totally new to us. It’s something, like oh, would you, we can actually leverage something that was unexpected. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: At one point we spoke to a child psychologist who said that once you start figuring out what really works for kids with autism you’re going to find that it works for all kids. So all of these things that you’re implementing are actually going to help all of your population. I think that people are seeing that. And so I really would just encourage you just to jump in. Just jump in. Do something. When I was at Lookingglass one of the first things we did is we had a camp at the Lincoln Park zoo and we did an inclusion camp where we found children from Bell elementary school that has a deaf population there. And we brought those kids with their interpreters. And what was so amazing is that all the kids learned sign language during that camp. And the signs for animals are really quite fun. [Chuckling] >>JACQUI RUSSELL: They brought so much to the camp. And it made the camp even more memorable experience for everybody. So just jump in in any way. Because it’s going to change lives, yours and theirs. >>LYNN: I would say take advantage of all the resources that we have. We all have limited budgets and might not be able to go to the other cities or states for professional development. But look at all of us in this room. We’re all trying to do the same thing. I found that the access and inclusion community is very giving. And they understand that it’s ridiculous for all of us to recreate the wheel at our organization. So I don’t think I’m alone whether I say we’re all willing to share what we’ve already done. Why make the same mistakes we made? Start off at the next point. Take advantage of what’s here. And Open Doors organization an is a really good resource. >>ERIC LIPP: Thanks for the plug. It’s great to see everybody doing things. We’re free to help everybody. We want to make things easier. Good design, good language are really good things. Start with some of the low-hanging fruit if you can to see what you can do. Don’t be afraid to talk to all these folks who are doing a great job. I mean, we don’t — we can only help with that because you know your business. We can only help you with some of the disability stuff. And don’t let Kris think — the Shedd is a great place. The truth is it’s very accessible. And there’s a lot to offer. And it is tough for people who are blind to go through there. But there’s 3-D printers and stuff. A lot of school things to do. They’re doing just fine at the Shedd. >>KRIS NESBITT: Looking around who’s here that I’m going to get a phone call from. >>RISA: That’s one of the reasons I wanted Kris on the panel was the Shedd Aquarium has such a unique point of view. And I hope that you all can — some of you can relate to that. I guess right now we’ll move onto the question and answer session. And I think there’s going to be a running mic. If you can raise your hand or get someone’s attention and wait for the mic phone to come to you. And then you can ask it and you can ask any of us. We’d be happy to answer. All right. You’re running the mic? >>I am. >>RISA: Any questions? >>When you were talking about do say and don’t say, what about special needs? >>ERIC LIPP: Good question. We get ask that had a lot. So far I have been unsuccessful in the cruise industry pulling special needs out of there. It isn’t PC. I hear some passengers people like special attention. But the community doesn’t, special needs is not the — is not appropriate language. You know, children with disabilities or — I’m not going to say that it’s horrible. Because it’s being used. But it’s not considered appropriate language. >>WOMAN: What I was specifically thinking about, when we have a form, an intake form, we have groups that are coming in, we have an additional information section where we ask people to indicate if they have any special needs, i e, mobility issues. >>ERIC LIPP: That’s kind of broad, that would be okay. Anybody will who has special needs, dietary restrictions, things like that. >>WOMAN: Oh. Okay. >>LYNN: Would asking if they need accommodations be better? >>ERIC LIPP: That would be great. Lynn said what accommodations might you need? Or do you need any accommodations? So nice — — there’s lots of — yeah. Anybody else have any words? I like that. >>RACHEL: I was going to say that. We always advise people to say — I was just going to say, to add to what was said, to advise people to say what kind of accommodations you need. That would be good. >>LYNN: Can I add one more thing before we go on? Regarding the special needs thing, so at the Chicago children’s museum, we work with a lot of parents and with a lot of teachers. And in schools they still refer to it as special needs. So the museum has made a decision not to say or print special needs. We use children with disabilities or whatever. But if we’re in a conversation with a parent and they use the term “special needs” then we adjust our language to fit theirs. >>WOMAN: Okay. >>WOMAN: My question is really — is related to this. And it’s about how language changes over time. Now in 1990 I worked for the Smithsonian, when the ADA was passed. And no we use — we used language that we don’t use today. Whoever it was in the institution that takes that liaison role or that lead role, I would think needs to kind of stay in relationship with groups like these and make sure that the information stays up to date in your institution. But my question is really, how — because I hear this all the time — well, we used to be able to say X and now you can’t say it. And why can’t you say it now? So how do you — how do you train staff and keep staff engaged in a way that they are willing to change and stay flexible? >>ERIC LIPP: Keep it simple. I told you, deaf, hard of hearing. You don’t have to worry about hearing impairment. Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision. Deaf people will not be wearing hearing aids, possibly signing. But if you’re wearing hearing aids possibly you’re hard of hearing. Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision. The national federation of the blind has visual impairments. The AFP doesn’t like that. So we keep an eye on — we put it in between. So deaf, hard of hearing. Somebody in a wheelchair just uses a wheelchair. Jim uses a wheelchair. The person first. Just keep it simple. As simple as you can. Especially with the language. >>WOMAN: Okay. >>RACHEL: Can I — just a quick point on the deaf and hard of hearing. Because each person with hearing loss, has so many different communication options, I would just encourage you not to make assumptions. For example I have cochlear implants, I’m not signing. I use my — I speak for myself. But I call myself deaf, not hard of hearing. So there’s — so I would agree to — in general, use the terminology that the person uses. And guide that — something that’s come up in my life a lot is the word “hearing impaired” I’m happy when people say — use the word hearing impaired, and I will tell them they won’t use deaf and hard of hearing. They say that’s what they use today call themselves. That’s the word your mom uses. And I say yeah, but that’s the word I used five years ago. Ten years ago. Definitely 15 years ago. But I don’t use it anymore. And I — by my saying that, I’m asking you not to use that. So follow the person. Even though the word hearing impaired still appears in the media, the story about Eric Coleman, the deaf football player, all the newspapers called him hearing impaired. And they also called him legally deaf. There is no such thing as legally deaf. [Laughter] >>RACHEL: So just keep that in mind. If they have called me, I would have told them that. [Laughter] >>RISA: I want to add one quick thing. Eric said keep it simple. And regular training for our drivers for all the wheelchair accessible vehicles, a lot of our drivers, English is not their first language. So English is a super complicated language first of all. And then we have the ever changing language of what’s PC and what’s not. Right? So we simplify it even more. We say just use disabilities, disabled, accessible. You drive a wheelchair accessible van. They’ll come into the class and say I want to drive a handicapped. Okay, cool. Like I’m glad your heart is in the right place. Now let me give you the language to express that. And so what I do, you know, I — this story is a little bit questionable. But I give them background to why we don’t say handicapped. This may not be where the word actually comes from but I give them a story to remember it by. And it really helps, especially for people who speak five other languages. The word handicapped might come from a war with England, way long ago and they came back poor and begging for money with their cap in hand. Cap in hand, handicapped, poor, disability. So this kind of visual really stuck with a lot of our drivers u and that’s one of the reasons they no longer use handicapped. I don’t really care if that story is accurate or not, as long as it — [Laughter] >>RISA: It works. So that’s how I do it sometimes. >>WOMAN: This is a question I guess to start with Jacqui. You mentioned having some child psychologist and people from Rush and UIC. Any comment on your programs. My overall question is on program design. And who you would recommend including from either inside your organization, the participants themselves, like autistic kids and other kinds of subject matter experts. If that’s important throughout the program design process. And in continuing to discuss what programs are working well and how you can improve on them. >>JACQUI RUSSELL: Well, we also do a lot of professional development for CPS teachers, specifically special education teachers. And those teachers have often ended up — they start the off training with us, and now they basically are training us. And so we usually run a lot of our ideas and content by them. And they are often the first groups that I bring into a production. And then I ask them to send me back feedback. And so I really find that educators are just some of the best partners you can have. And I’ve worked in settings where I was working with a lot of medical personnel, and found that in terms of a lot of behavior and interaction, that I found educators were actually more helpful to my process. And that I found that the medical personnel actually had just a lot more information to share about sort of where things are in terms of the disability and the diagnosis and things that people want to know. And so I have found them to be the most helpful sort of at the beginning of the process, and then as I’m in the process, and really needing feedback, I’ve really found that educators have been our best critics and helpers. Does that answer your question? Okay. >>WOMAN: So I guess this question is directed more towards Lynn. You said that you have part-time staff on your floor that has disabilities. And I was just wondering how do you make sure that your other floor staff doesn’t end up feeling resentment towards the other staff because they feel like they’re resetting it more or that they have to apologize when they don’t? Or other things like that? >>LYNN: That’s a good question. But you have to make sure when you’re hiring staff that they can do the job. We don’t hire people with disabilities that can’t do the job. They might have to do it differently, or might need an accommodation, but we’ve been really lucky, we haven’t had that issue. And if anything, I would say our staff without the disabilities have learned a lot, particularly from someone with physical disabilities, because this person — he can do amazing things with one arm and — you know, it hasn’t been an issue. But it’s important. You’re not hiring a person with a disability just to hire a person with a disability. I have made that mistake early on. I did admit. And then you — you know, you learn. Still get someone in there that can do the job. That’s really important. >>WOMAN: Thank you. >>LYNN: Uh-huh. >>RISA: Well, I mean you’re welcome to interrupt me with a question by raising your hand. But I don’t know if you mind adding a couple minutes early anyway because we did want to allow the last half hour an opportunity for you all to meet each other, meet us, come up with individual questions perhaps thaw didn’t want to share with the entire room. But no one — I just want to make sure I don’t miss anyone raising their hand. You have a question. Okay. >>WOMAN: Yeah. Hi, I’m Jennie from the Chicago history museum. And what we’ve mainly covered a lot of things that are for children and families. And at the history museum our core demographic, whoever, is adult primarily. So our — I’m sitting here with my front line coordinator and someone from our education — museum educator. And I think our approach — we want to be ready for when the visitor comes. And to accommodate. To be at the ready. And when we are planning larger public program, we have a sign interpreter. We built that into our budget. So we have that. So we kind of go with the approach, we’re going to have the most people in the building for a big program, we want to be ready to accommodate. And we keep — we have five or six wheelchairs ready because for whatever — we just learned over the years, sometimes that’s just a good thing to have. And I — only once or twice in the last few years can I remember us being called in advance and asking us for a particular program, will you have a sign interpreter there? And we may not have, but we appreciated someone calling and asking for that in advance. Because we do keep the resource roll decks ready and we call and reach out. And it’s wonderful. And we get one and we — but a little taken — someone called the night before, 4:30 in the afternoon for a program that’s going to start the next day. And we did it. We were a little breathless. We’re self conscious about that. And just wanting to be prepared. And I think if we had Open Doors come and do an assessment from us, purely from visitor services, that’s what we would want to know from you, when we get the walk-in, what’s the short list or the best list to have of what we should have ready for them? >>ERIC LIPP: We did a couple of our press releases in your space because it does have — we did the easy access Chicago guides. We did that. I’m on TV right here in your space with the L car. Because it has the ramp on it. What a great thing we did with the governor and whatnot. I think you guys are — you have a good space and you have the right direction. So you can really build around that. >>LYNN: Could I add — >>ERIC LIPP: Yeah. >>LYNN: I was going to say I was waiting for Eric to tell you the same thing he told us many years ago. Having information available on your website, you know, for accommodations and — it’s not inappropriate to say that you need two weeks or whatever the notice. And it’s really great if you could provide that service in less than 24 hours, but there’s no legal — you don’t have to with that amount of time, correct? >>ERIC LIPP: Correct. >>LYNN: That’s unreasonable. >>ERIC LIPP: You don’t really — there’s not a whole lot of things you necessarily have to do under the ADA. Because it’s a loose law. Right? It’s gray. It’s not black and white. And especially on those kinds of issues. But don’t be afraid to do it wrong. Some — little afraid to do it wrong. You can’t be afraid to do it wrong. Nobody’s going to kill you if you try. Takes trial and error. And I think that Lynn will tell you that. Evan will tell you that. It takes a little trial and error to do it right. >>WOMAN: As a matter of fact, when you pointed out just in your initial slides that the website, on your website, that’s probably the best take away for us. On this issue is to make sure that what is on that website tells — >>ERIC LIPP: Yeah. You have good things. So it’s okay to put those out there. It’s okay to say that you have ramping and all that. You should say that. That’s why we did our press release there. Because your facility is accessible. Your exhibits are as well. Many of them. >>RACHEL: Yeah, you can a lot of times — people with disabilities don’t know that people have such a great attitude like you do. You’re eager and ready to provide that access. But people might not know. So if you — it’s really important to put that on your website. Last week I was in Arizona and I went to the desert museum and the kind of accessibility they had for people with disabilities. And there was nothing about deafness. And I had called there a month earlier, when I called, I said do you provide any accommodation for deaf people? They said no. I showed up at the museum and there was a sign that said we provide accommodation for hearing impaired. And I asked them what do you provide? And they handed me these laminated script of the tour through — through. And half of it was directions, don’t touch this, don’t touch that. And I went up to the tour guide and I said I’m deaf. I didn’t know there were accommodations. And what she said was not on this script that they gave me. So I wanted — would have liked to know that that information was on the website because I did look at the website. So I think people need to be able to find that information. And they need to tell all of your staff. Especially the people are at the box office, the very frontline. And if they — if your staff doesn’t know, help them figure out who the right person is to ask. You know, I do this when I buy tickets to captioned plays. I always ask them. And sometimes they don’t know that they even — what day the caption is showing. Make that information easy for them to find. Are there any other questions here? >>WOMAN: Hi. Just really quickly. So when I’m setting out reserved seating signs for if we have a public program and we hire a signer, I find that sometimes it’s — I need to differentiate putting just reserved for VIPs or speaker’s family, and then I want to make sure that the deaf can see the signers. So what do you think the language should say? Reserved for — >>RACHEL: I think that you can say reserved for the deaf and hard of hearing, or you could say reserved for — that’s a good question. Reserved for — the sign language interpreter, to be able to see. But I think there’s — depending how big the space is. People don’t know to go up to the front. It is an auditorium, it’s hard to get up to the front, especially you’re not a VIP. You should put a sign outside the front. And if you see somebody using sign language, let them know to — because think may not know. >>WOMAN: Saying — in that case the deaf is okay? >>ERIC LIPP: You wouldn’t want to — you would say for people who are using sign language interpretation. And then just put those on the seats. I’m guessing — I’m asking Evan, do you put anything on your seats? When you do your — just you just have your people know that those are the seats? >>EVAN: We’re lucky for most performances to have a sign — assigned seating. And so there’s a lot of energy that goes into the preidentification process. If we’re in a general admission sort of situation, the wording we’ll use is this is reserved for people who want the best view of the sign language interpreters. And you got a couple of intern students there maybe but for the most part you can really trust folks on that to self select. >>ERIC LIPP: You might get my dad who now wears a hearing aid over there. [Chuckling] >>ERIC LIPP: That’s some — >>I’m going to jump in for a sec. I’m Christina Gunther, I work at the Elmhurst historical museum. Access symbols are helpful. They can really — picture tells a thousand words. There are free access symbols from the graphic artists guild. And unfortunate acronym of GAG. You can find it on line and get them for free and format them. There’s a great symbol of a first — for sign language that you could use. You could also use the terminology as well that we just discussed. But I think when you see that at — makes a lot of sense and people really understand what it’s for. >>ERIC LIPP: I love the signage. Nonverbal communication and people catch it. Like that. >>RISA: We’re deciding who wants to close. We work really well together. Okay. Sure, before — Lucas. >>LUCAS: A couple of things, I wanted to thank a couple — Lucas Livingston from the Art Institute of Chicago. I wanted to thank a couple additional folks maybe who — I’m not sure were thanked at the beginning. Sandie Ye, the cultural access consortium — social media presence. And also I want to thank Nick Young, the Art institute’s media production service manager who’s here. He’s put out a number of fires and helped us to coordinate this. Which I think we’re going to be putting on the CCAC website. The link is on everyone’s handout here. And lastly after we conclude, remind you all to please help yourself to more tea and coffee and the nibbles and you can certainly take these away with you and just not consume them in the galleries. [Laughter] >>LUCAS: And then the little cereal boxes have to be takeaways because of our absence of boiling water and spoons. [Chuckling] >>LUCAS: Thank you all very much. >>ERIC LIPP: Thanks for having us. >>RISA: Thanks for hosting us. It’s a beautiful location. I think we all enjoy being here. I want to thank our panel once again for all their amazing comments. [Applause] >>RISA: Thank you Rachel for helping me do this wonderful night. It’s great. I guess that’s all. Thank you on the microphone. And if you have any questions for all of us, feel free to come up. You know, we have our cards, we’re all self promoting. I look forward to speaking to all of you. Thank you for coming out on this cold night. Thank you. [Applause]

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