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Center to Increase Accessibility for Blind & Low-Vision Patrons

The Carrollwood Cultural Center will increase accessibility for blind and low vision patrons using $15,000 awarded through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay Competitive Grant for the fiscal year 2022.

The Center will use the grant money to purchase a new assistive listening system. The grant will also enable the Center to train people who will offer live audio description services to audience members who are blind or have low vision. Audio description is a live narration of the visual elements of a performance, such as lights, costumes, actions, textures, and scenery. Additionally, the new system will enable patrons who are hard of hearing to tune into a high-quality audio stream through the Center’s wireless network. The patron can then access the frequency through an application on their cell phone.

The Center plans to start offering audio descriptive services to patrons during the final two shows of its 2021-22 theatrical season, Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical on July 15-24 and First Date on September 16-25.

The new assistive listening system is part of a larger programming initiative planned for Blind Awareness Month in October, including a touch-sensitive art exhibition presented by the Gallery at Carrollwood Cultural Center and a workshop and performance by the national touring group Blind Visionaries.

In addition to offering live audio description services for Center-produced theatrical performances, the Center also plans to contract audio description services to other arts organizations throughout the Tampa Bay area.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Florida has the second-largest blind and low vision population in the U.S., representing 2.5% of Florida’s total population, or 537,500 Floridians. However, only seven theatrical companies in Florida offer audio-described performances. Furthermore, only one of those facilities is in the Tampa Bay area.

The Carrollwood Cultural Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a mission of creating culture through community and community through culture.