Disabled Advocates Claim New Denver Opera House Has Access Problems

Classic Arts News   Disabled Advocates Claim New Denver Opera House Has Access Problems
Advocates for the disabled say that Denver's new Ellie Caulkins Opera House is not easily accessible for patrons in wheelchairs, the Denver Post reports.

According to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, the wheelchair lifts are slow and hard to navigate, the lower-level seating is sloped instead of level, and the ticket sellers were unclear on where the accessible seating was located.

The coalition has made a tour of the opera house, which opened with a gala concert on September 10.

Kevin Williams, the coalition's legal program director, said that the problems "should have been corrected in the design phase. We don't know why they did what they did."

Jack Finlaw, director of the Division of Theaters and Arenas, pointed out that the renovation is not complete, and that it is not uncommon for new buildings to draw such criticism. "Frankly, these are the normal bugs with opening any public seating facility," he said. "A lot of fine-tuning needs to be done. A lot of construction workers will be in the building until the end of the year."

Nevertheless, Finlaw wants the city to meet with the coalition to discuss its concerns.

"We hope that once we have a real conversation," he said, "they will understand all the features of the building."

Earlier this year, the Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors League praised the opera house in a letter that said "it was clear to our people that planning for access was significant as they noted the placement of ramps, elevators, doors, and furnishings."

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