For my daughter, since she expects me to write about this:
To the House Manager, Buell Theater:
I attended Wicked at the Buell on Wednesday, May 23rd. I am a wheelchair user. I want to express my disappointment with my experience, beginning with purchasing the tickets.
An examination of your seating chart shows that very few orchestra seats are available for wheelchair users. The seats you do have have extremely poor sight lines, in no way comparable to those available for members of the general public. I draw your attention to the following section of the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines:
4.33 Assembly Areas.
4.33.3* Placement of Wheelchair Locations. Wheelchair areas shall be an integral part of any fixed seating plan and shall be provided so as to provide people with physical disabilities a choice of admission prices and lines of sight comparable to those for members of the general public. They shall adjoin an accessible route that also serves as a means of egress in case of emergency. At least one companion fixed seat shall be provided next to each wheelchair seating area. When the seating capacity exceeds 300, wheelchair spaces shall be provided in more than one location. Readily removable seats may be installed in wheelchair spaces when the spaces are not required to accommodate wheelchair users.
I was unable to purchase tickets online for wheelchair accessible seats, and had to call the box office, thereby incurring an additional fee. I was sold seats ZZ 1,2,3 and YY 1,2.
Parking: I parked in the DPAC garage. Apparently handicapped permit parking is not available on every floor, and on the 7th floor, where I parked, there were also no curb cuts, so I had to be lifted onto the sidewalk.
At the theater: my party and I were treated as though we were charity cases, not paying customers. The ushers seemed unable to tell us exactly where our assigned seats were, saying things like “Just sit here.” Three times ushers came to us prior to the show, telling us we would have to move as we were in someone else’s seats. This did not turn out to be the case, although in one instance the usher claimed he would need to take my tickets back to the box office to straighten things out. When I questioned this, another usher laid her hand on my shoulder in a patronizing gesture. I asked her not to touch me, and suggested that the ushers needed better training on which seat is which and how to interact with patrons. I’m quite sure your staff would not have treated a paying, adult patron this way had I been standing up.
I would appreciate a response to these concerns.
Note that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts was sued by the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition over access issues in May, 2006 – anyone know the outcome of this suit?