MACT offers Accessibility Workshops & Trainings

MACT masks logo with "Training & Workshops" below it

Several workshops in May and June will offer different ways of making the arts more accessible to people with disabilities. Offered by the Minnesota Association of Community Theatres, with funding support from the Metro Regional Arts Council, they are open for registration now. Space is limited.

Audio Describer Training

Are you looking to learn a new way to

  • use your visual description skills,
  • enable people who are blind to enjoy public events more fully, and
  • earn money?

Investigate the world of Audio Description — creating vivid descriptions of key visual elements for people who are blind or have low vision, as well as for others who can finally see — through the describer’s words — sets, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, etc. New describers are needed due to retirements, new opportunities, and a nearly total absence of audio description in Greater Minnesota. (Shows with audio description and other access accommodations are listed on the Minnesota Access Alliance website:

Choose a two-day training that fits your schedule:

Thursday/Friday, May 16-17, at Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis,


Saturday/Sunday, May 18-19, at Minnesota Fringe office, 79 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

The trainings, in person from 9:00 to 5:00, will primarily look at audio describing live events like plays, but the techniques also apply to description at art galleries, museums, historical sites, film/video, parades, etc. It will cover the basic guidelines and methods of description using equipment like portable microphones, transmitters and receivers available locally.

The cost is $80.

Trainer Celia Hughes is director of Art Spark Texas (formerly VSA Texas), which has been providing Audio Description services in Texas and across the country (including Minnesota) for over 20 years. She has presented and trained at the Kennedy Center’s annual LEAD (Leadership Exchange in Arts & Disability) conferences, and serves on a national committee looking at audio description standards and certification.

To register, go to For more information, call Jon at 612-819-0949 or


MACT is offering a series of Saturday workshops on various topics of interest to community theatres. Currently scheduled is a workshop on May 18. Additional workshops will be held in June. Watch the MACT website (click here) for additional details.

Including People with Disabilities in Your Shows


What is the Penguin Project?

Both these workshops will be presented by staff and volunteers at Northern Starz Theatre, 5300 Alpine Drive NW, #200, Ramsey 55303.

The Saturday, May 18 workshop has been postponed.

(Additional workshops will be offered in June.)

10:00-12:00 — Including People with Disabilities in Your Shows — Hear how this community theatre has been successful at including seniors and people with disabilities in its shows and programs; and bring your ideas and questions of how to reach this typically-undeserved part of your potential participants.

12:00 Networking Lunch

1:30-3:30 — What is the Penguin Project, and Could It Be Part of Your Season — musicals that include youth with and without disabilities. This nationally recognized program casts young people with disabilities and peer mentor performers without disabilities in musicals. See how Northern Starz has done it and how it could work for your community.

Registration is $40 for both workshops ($35 MACT member) or $25 for one workshop ($20 MACT member).

More info about Northern Starz:

More info about the Penguin Project:

Captioning Options for Theatres

How is YOUR theatre serving members who can’t hear all the words? Captioning can be an option. Learn what local theatres and cultural groups are doing to provide Open (Scripted) Captioning to serve attendees who are Deaf or hard of hearing as well as the rest of us. Who’s doing it now, and what methods may work and be affordable for your organization?

Hear from:

  • Independent captioners who use free software to provide captioned performances at History Theatre, Park Square and Theater Latte Da.
  • A Remote captioner who uses an app on patrons’ smartphones to caption Sue Scott’s shows at Crooners Supper Club.
  • Mixed Blood Theatre, who projects scripted captioning at EVERY performance;
  • Full Circle Theatre, which developed its own captioning system.
  • And other presenters. We will mention, but won’t get into the more expensive captioning coordinated by c2 inc. at the Guthrie, Ordway and Hennepin Theatre Trust. Or the supertitles used by Minnesota Opera for English translations of its operas.

If you wish to offer captions at spontaneous events, conferences, Q&A discussions, etc., you’ll need to contact local CART Providers (i.e. court reporters) who use special software.

Panelists will talk about their Captioning efforts and options over the past few years, including:

  • what captioning software/hardware they use,
  • if they bought it, created it, got it free…,
  • the timeline for getting a script, putting it into the proper format, seeing the show to perfect timing and script changes, etc.,
  • what skills and equipment the captioner needs,
  • what support/assistance/pay is provided by the theatre or venue,
  • how many shows per production are typically captioned,
  • how venues/organizations market the availability of captioning,
  • how audiences have come to accept or expect it,
  • how community theatres and other organizations can introduce it to their audiences — both specifically for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and those who just miss a few words now and then.

This session is Saturday, June 1, from 10:00 until between noon and 1:00 at Artistry (Bloomington Center for the Arts), 800 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington 55431. Cost is $25 (MACT member $20)

Additional workshops will be offered on Saturdays in June. They will be announced on the MACT website. and in its Mini MACT*Facts newsletter. Questions, contact Jon at 612-819-0949 or