A Courtyard for Everyone!
We want to be a Courtyard for everyone! Here at The Courtyard we’re committed to ensuring that our building and all that it has to offer is as accessible and inclusive to all as possible.
From Relaxed Performances and Screenings, Dementia Friendly Events and Dog Friendly Screenings to Inclusive Workshops and Inter-generational Sessions there is something for everyone to enjoy here.
With thanks to vital funding from Children in Need and Hereford Community Foundation, our Education Department have established a comprehensive, three year programme of inclusive work that offers those with specific learning needs or disabilities the opportunity to engage in fun, creative and educational workshops and sessions.
So far the team have delivered Be A Star, Fairytale, Animal Kingdom, Go Wild and Circus themed Inclusive Workshops which have been hugely successful.
A parent of an Inclusive Workshop attendee said:
“The main positive I have found is the team of staff that are quietly confident and able to consider each of the childrens’ needs and make the most of their strengths. The sessions are relaxed, fun and each child is able to contribute in their own way with smiles and encouragement. As parents we are offered a safe place where our children can make friends, feel valued for all they are contributing and also they are learning about themselves, others and the world. The children including our son found it so easy to relate to the fantastic staff; their individual personalities and abilities mattered and were accepted.”
This funding, along with generous donations from the public has allowed us to enhance the experience for those attending the Relaxed Performances and Screenings that we offer.
Relaxed Performances are open to everyone but may particularly benefit those who would appreciate a less formal theatre environment such as individuals with autism spectrum conditions, learning difficulties or sensory and communication difficulties. Small adjustments are made to the light and sound effects to reduce any anxiety. Audience members are welcome to leave their seats, make noise and move around as they wish and a quiet, sensory room is provided for audience members to use if they wish to take a break from the show. Visual aids for getting to and around the venue can be provided and a social story is also available to help familiarise audience members with the venue and performance before the show.
Similar to these performances, we are also delighted to be able to offer regular Relaxed Screenings in our cinema. In our Relaxed Screenings seating is informal, lights are left on low throughout the film and the sound is turned down slightly. Doors to the cinema also open early to allow audience members to familiarise themselves with the space.
In addition to our work to meet the needs of those with specific learning needs or disabilities, we also strive to ensure those who have visual or hearing impairments.
The Courtyard Audio Description Association was established in 2009 and enables us to be able to offer Audio Description on almost all of our in house productions. Audio Description consists of a narrator talking through the performance or film, describing what is happening on the stage or screen during the natural pauses in the dialogue. Audio Description headsets are free to use and are bookable from Box Office, just make sure you let us know you’d like to use them when booking your tickets!
Audio Description is also available on a variety of films and some visiting shows and an Audio Described version of our Café Bar menu is available on our website and in the Café Bar itself – just ask a member of staff who will be happy to help!
For those who are hard of hearing, Infra-red Audio Enhancement is available in the main auditorium and for all film screenings. The equipment can be used with or without a hearing aid. A Hearing Loop is installed.
Alongside our Audio Described performances, we now offer Touch Tours preceding the show to allow those who are visually impaired an opportunity to enhance their experience. Touch Tours allow audiences to get close to the set, costumes and props used in the show. During the tour, the audio describer will guide guests through important props and character costumes used in the production.
Selected performances are BSL interpreted for hearing impaired or deaf audiences. Our pantomime always has a BSL performance and selected films are also subtitled each season.
Finally, having become the UK’s first arts venue to become Dementia Friendly in 2010 we now offer a range of opportunities for those who are living with dementia to participate in the arts and enjoy spending social time in a supportive and adapted environment. All of our staff and stewards receive dementia awareness training to help them understand the needs of people living with dementia.
Dementia Friendly Performances and Dementia Friendly Screenings are now fully ingrained in our programme of events.
We are proud to offer people living with dementia, their families, friends and carers a carefully tailored performance in an environment that is comfortable and supportive so that everyone can enjoy the wonder of live theatre. We consider everything from sound and lighting, seating plans, signage and refreshment service. We offer extra flexibility when booking seats, so if you know you need a little extra personal space you can request that the seat next to you remains unsold. A quiet room outside the auditorium is also available if you need some time away from the crowd.
Dementia Friendly screenings are hosted each season with specific titles chosen to appeal to those living with dementia. Seating is adjusted to allow an informal, cabaret style set up and tea and biscuits are available to enjoy throughout the screening. Lighting is softer, sound volume is turned down and subtitles are shown where possible.
Now firmly established as a Dementia Friendly Event favourite, The Courtyard’s seasonal Tea Dances allow those living with dementia and their carers to step back in time and experience a fun afternoon with music, tea, cakes and dancing! Our Spectacular Tea Dances are for everyone but may particularly benefit those living with dementia.
As part of our commitment to making Hereford more dementia friendly, we offer monthly Dementia Friends information sessions here at The Courtyard in association with Alzheimer’s Society. Anyone can be a Dementia Friend, it is about understanding a little more about dementia, and the little ways you can help. Sessions last about 45-60 minutes and can be booked online or via Box Office on 01432 340555.