True/False operation team prepares mobility, auditory accommodations

The True/False team paired with the MU Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity to make the festival broadly accessible.

With True/False Film Fest just around the corner, planning and preparation are underway to make sure everything runs smoothly. One important area in which these preparations are being made is in accessibility accommodations.

This year, True/False has improved its accessibility accommodations by emphasizing volunteer training more, True/False operations manager Carly Love said.

“I think that internally we’ve done a better job at training and educating our venue staff as to how to handle those things,” Love said. “We train volunteers for individuals with physical disability and individuals with hearing impairments specifically, and we encourage them to call either me or our manager or theater operations if they aren’t sure how to handle a situation."

Love oversees the festival’s nine venues and synapses and their various accommodations. To make sure the accommodations are sufficient, the True/False team corresponds with the MU Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity.

One main area of accommodations offered at the festival is mobility accommodations.

“We’ve walked through every venue that we utilize with an individual that uses a wheelchair as their mode of mobility,” Love said. “They’ve given feedback on how we can rearrange our venue to make it more accessible or how we can train our staff that is in all of those venues to provide simple accommodations when they recognize somebody who might need any extra mobility assistance.”

Also, transportation from venue to venue will be available throughout the festival via Go COMO. Love encourages anyone with mobility issues to use this service, as it’s free for the festival’s pass holders.

For those needing auditory accommodations, hearing assisted devices will be available at Jesse Auditorium, Missouri Theatre, Rhynsburger Theatre and Ragtag Cinema.

According to the True/False website, 12 films and the Campfire Stories will include American Sign Language interpretation for their introductions and Q&As.

True/False’s ASL interpreter Karen Hodges began to learn ASL by working with a deaf theater, then went on to get a bachelor’s degree in ASL interpretation at William Woods University. With 27 years of interpreting experience, she is certified and licensed as a level five ASL interpreter in the state of Missouri, meaning that she can interpret in legal, educational, business and mental health settings.

Hodges has been attending the festival since its beginning. Along the way, she noticed that she didn’t know of any deaf or hard-of-hearing people going to the films, and she developed the idea of interpreting the Q&As in order to use her skills to give back to the True/False community.

“Every year when I walked away from True/False, I continued to think about what skill or what talent I could offer them,” Hodges said. “So, I thought that maybe I could bridge that, bring some enthusiasm to the community, bring some awareness and accessibility for them while I enjoyed the films myself.”

While not many people utilized this service the first year it was offered, in the following years Hodges began to notice a consistent audience of at least one or two members for her interpretations.

“I think it’s really exciting if you can reach one or two people and bridge that language barrier for people on stage and for the audience,” Hodges said.

While Hodges usually decides which films she will interpret based on which ones are subtitled and fit with her schedule, this year she said she has also taken requests for interpretation at Q&As even for films without subtitles.

Hodges said she hopes to expand True/False’s ASL services in the future, and she has received feedback from those in the deaf community saying that they would appreciate more options.

“For me, it’s one of my favorite things that happens in this community every year. I find it so joyful, so much fun, so inspiring,” Hodges said.

If any extra accommodations are needed, Love said she can set them up if the person seeking the accommodation contacts her via email or phone, which are both available on the True/False website. If a person reaches out, Love will work with them to provide the needed accommodations.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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