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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Broadway improves disability access
Kevin McGuire
Disability consultant Kevin McGuire checks out access at the Music Box Theatre
Half of Broadway theatres are to become fully accessible to disabled people, at a cost of $5m (3m).

A deal has been struck between the government and the Shubert Organization, which owns 16 venues.

Work is well under way to improve seating areas for wheelchairs, ticket windows and concession stands.

But the formalising of the agreement means the end of lawsuits filed against the theatre company under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the ADA regulations one per cent of seating should be set aside for disabled people, with another one per cent for companions, taking in both the best seats and the least expensive.

Work is due to be completed by the end of the year on the 16 New York theatres, where shows include Mama Mia! and Gypsy.


The move has been welcomed by disabilities access consultant Kevin McGuire, a wheelchair user who regularly visits theatres but often had to make do with sitting in aisles.

"In the dark, people would sometimes trip over me and I got my load of popcorn and soda over the years," said Mr McGuire, of Boston.

US attorney James Comey, who announced the agreement, said the Shubert Organization had faced "an architectural challenge of a very high order" to provide disability access because the newest of its theatres was 70 years old.

"This is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to remove barriers for all people who desire to enjoy the unique experience of seeing a Broadway show," Shubert chairman Gerald Schoenfeld said.

The government says it is to investigating disability access at other Broadway theatres.

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