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The Wheeling Symphony Society, Inc. believes that its artistic and educational programs should be accessible to individuals of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity, and physical abilities. The symphony is committed to making programs accessible to the communities it serves by selecting venues that are accommodating to individuals with disabilities. In addition, the Wheeling Symphony provides contact information about available special assistance to insure that all concerts and programs are accessible.
The Wheeling Symphony is committed to fostering a sense of welcome to the entire community. The organization operates on the premise that a symphony
concert is one art form that can be enjoyed by all. In addition to our regular season concerts, we make every effort to address any special needs
that are required by those who attend our Young People’s Concerts.
Mobility Disabilities – The Wheeling Symphony’s primary performance venue, the Capitol Theatre, is handicap accessible, as are the Wheeling Symphony’s administrative offices and its box office. WSO Box Office Manager Paul Smallwood, as well as the Capitol Theatre Box Office staff, are very familiar with the hall and are able to accommodate special seating needs for those patrons with mobility issues; both box office staffs are very
solicitous of these requests.
Front door drop off points and indoor valet parking at the Mull Center, located next door to the Capitol, are available. Student ushers are stationed curbside to assist patrons in getting out of their vehicles and assist them to the theater entrance. Once inside additional ushers are available to offer patrons assistance in getting to and from their seats.
Each of the WSO’s educational outreach programs, including the Artist-in-Residence Program, the Young People’s Concert Tour, and the Wheeling Symphony Youth Orchestra, uses handicap accessible venues. When planning any additional symphony event, be it a public lecture or subscriber appreciation party, adequate handicap accessibility is a requirement in potential venue selection.
Visual Disabilities – Individuals with visual disabilities may call the Wheeling Symphony or Capitol Theatre Box Office to receive help or advice in concert seat selection. In addition, all Masterworks Concert programs are available in Braille or large print, thanks to a partnership developed with the local Seeing Hand Association. The availability of these programs is promoted through posted signage at the Masterworks concerts.
All patrons are encouraged to utilize the assistance of the trained ushers available at Wheeling Symphony concerts, as they will escort people to and
from their seats and provide directions to facilities within the hall. At the annual local Young People’s Concerts, ushers are also available for assistance. Furthermore, at all Young People’s Concerts the WSO Education Coordinator invites visually impaired students on stage after the performance. The WSO and its musicians have enjoyed working with visually impaired students in the past by providing them with the opportunity to touch and handle the various instruments. It should be noted that children who have a visual disability attend the concert with the personal assistance of a school-appointed professional aid.
Hearing Disabilities – The Capitol Theatre is a very acoustically sound venue for the Wheeling Symphony’s Masterworks Series. The WSO employs the best sound technician in northern West Virginia so that sound through electronic miking is the best it can be for the Pops Series. Each string and wind instrument is individually miked. The rest of the orchestra sections are miked to balance with the guest artists and their monitors.
As with students who have visual impairments, Young People’s Concert participants who have hearing impairments are invited on stage to meet the
musicians after the concerts and touch the instruments and feel the various vibrations. In addition, the Artist-in-Residence Program incorporates the
teaching of some songs in sign language as a way to encourage understanding for those with disabilities.
Speech Disabilities – A person with speech disabilities should not have any trouble participating in and enjoying symphonic concerts. Should they find it too difficult to order a concert ticket over the phone, the patron can always choose to order by mail, by email, or by physically visiting the Wheeling Symphony or Capitol Theatre Box Office where they are sure to receive patient, individual attention. Both box office staffs are familiar with working with customers who use audio-enhanced equipment over the phone. On concert nights, the WSO-trained ushers have received instructions on
providing the required assistance to people with such disabilities.
Learning Disabilities – In most cases there, would be little or no hindrance to participating in a symphony concert for someone with a learning disability. Music is frequently characterized as the “universal language” transcending other barriers. The WSO has several patrons who suffer from
different forms of learning disabilities, and many are among our most loyal and enthusiastic supporters. Should any of these customers have any issue in purchasing concert tickets, either the WSO or the Capitol Box Office staff would patiently and respectfully assist the customer, and the student ushers will be solicitous of their needs on concert nights.
Through the Artist-In-Residence Program, Scott Reed is able to reach children who have difficulty in classroom learning situations. Many children who do not do well academically flourish musically. Using a wide range of performance opportunities and instruction techniques, Reed is able to foster a greater sense of pride and self-esteem in these children who have not experienced a sense of achievement in academic or sport venues.
At all of the annual Young People’s Concerts, children with significant disabilities attend with the assistance of a school-appointed professional aid.
Developmental Disabilities – Those patrons with developmental disabilities usually attend the symphony with the help of a guardian or caregivers. The WSO staff is responsive to any requests that might assist and aid in its audience members’ concert experience, including suggested seating locations.