Join Cyndi Fasco and Megan Kaminsky at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago for an exploration of accessibility and inclusivity in the world of live theater. Cyndi, accompanied by her guide dog Pepper, shares her journey as a person with Stickler Syndrome, a condition affecting her hearing, vision, and joints, and her quest for accessible venues in Chicago. Steppenwolf, founded in 1976, is committed to creating thrilling and thought-provoking art in an inclusive environment. Discover how Steppenwolf caters to everyone by providing braille programs, assistive listening devices, and loop technology for individuals with hearing impairments like Cyndi. Megan showcases the theater’s commitment to accessibility, including ADA seating, wide aisles, and removable chairs for wheelchair users, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all patrons. 

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CYNDI: Hi, my name is Cyndi Fasco and we are at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

MEGAN: Hi, Cyndi, I’m Megan.

CYNDI: Nice to meet you.

MEGAN: You too. So glad you’re here.

CYNDI: Oh, I’m so happy to be here.

MEGAN: My name is Megan Kaminsky. I am the Associate Director of Audience Experience here at Steppenwolf Theater Company. What’s really great is there are lots of public transit options for getting here. So we’re on Halsted, which is the 8 bus going north and south. We’re just off of North Avenue, which is the 72 bus going east, west, and then we’re also right by the Red Line stop at North and Clybourn. And who is this?

CYNDI: This is Pepper.

MEGAN: Aww, well welcome to you both.

CYNDI: Thank you.

MEGAN: So happy to have you here at Steppenwolf.

CYNDI: I live in Chicago with my wonderful husband, Cory, and we have two adult kids and two dogs, and one of those dogs is my guide dog. She’s actually an extension of me and it’s very important that she is comfortable because if she’s not comfortable, I won’t be comfortable. I am hearing impaired, visually impaired, and I also have bad joints. So all due to something called Stickler Syndrome, and that’s why I am looking for fun accessible venues in Chicago.

MEGAN: Steppenwolf has been around since 1976 when it was founded by Gary Sinise, Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney. Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous, and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. It’s important for all people to experience the arts. That includes live theater. It’s just really important to us that everyone who comes to Steppenwolf is having an awesome experience. Just making sure that all of our spaces are accessible, our restrooms, our bars, our entrances. It just ensures that everyone feels like they belong here.

CYNDI: Some of my favorite things about Steppenwolf is that they really cater to everyone. Using braille programs is awesome. Not every place has that. And also due to my hearing impairment, I wear hearing aids and I’m just able to tap into the loop. I just am very comfortable here knowing that there’s people that care about everyone.

MEGAN: Here at the guest services desk is where folks can come to check out assistive listening devices. It’s just small device like this along with the pair of headphones and it helps amplify the actor’s voices in our theater spaces. Here we are in our downstairs theater. This is the theater that’s original to the campus. Some of the programs that we offer we have our audio description programming. We also invite folks to come to our pre-show touch tours to really get the full experience of the play.

CYNDI: Theater typically is for the sighted and the hearing, but you guys have done such a good job of making it for everyone.

MEGAN: Not only are our public lobby spaces accessible to folks, but our green rooms our dressing rooms, the catwalk, anyone in a wheelchair can actually access all of those spaces because it’s not just the patrons, it’s the artists as well. In this space, you know it was built, right, early nineties. We do have our accessible ADA seating. Those chairs are removable, so if anyone would like to just roll right in with a wheelchair, they’re able to do so.

CYNDI: I’m noticing how wide the aisle is, which is really great for someone with a guide dog or someone who needs a little extra space holding onto someone getting down. There’s a really plentiful room getting into the theater. The seating is ample for both of us to sit and enjoy a show and you know, not even think twice about it.

MEGAN: It’s more than just seeing a production. It’s an entire experience with other people in community.

CYNDI: I just am very comfortable here knowing that there’s people that care about everyone. It makes me very excited to come and see a show at Steppenwolf.

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