- Meet with AWS Foundation to discuss.
- Get through Covid so it can finally happen.
- Write a social story.
- Advertise event.
- Work with a consultant for support with the details.
- Discuss disability with staff, volunteers, and musicians.
- Host an instrument playground (before & after the event).
- Invite providers, music therapists, and others to host a table or activity.
- Have the consultant serve as emcee and explain the orchestra and music.
- Make sure there is an interpreter for any of our deaf or hard of hearing friends.
- Create an experience that is friendly for everyone.
- Survey the audience to see how the experience was.
On April 2, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic completed the extensive checklist above. Bravo! as the audience of 100+ learned to say when they feel something is well done. In fact, my granddaughter was saying Bravo for many days after the concert, just as she watched herself playing the cello time and time again. The entire concert was 30 minutes the perfect amount of time for a first-time experience.
Over 100 tickets were sold, indicating the value people saw in the experience. Tickets free of charge were also available for anyone who needed them.
To be honest, before the event, I worried would the music be too loud? Would the large member orchestra be overwhelming?
I need not have worried, however, because the emcee and conductor introduced the audience to each section of the orchestra so we could hear the sound that they would be making. Of course, headphones were available if the noise did happen to be too much. The audience was encouraged to move in their seats or stand up and show how the music made them feel.
In my 3+ years working at AWS Foundation, this experience has set the bar for me. It went beyond “sensory friendly” and became universally designed. Whether on purpose or not, the event was not just for individuals who had sensory needs. It was perfect for any young child or first-time Philharmonic attendee (my 4-year-old granddaughter).
What the Philharmonic accomplished was no small feat. They looked beyond just performing to creating an experience that was truly inclusive and accessible for all.