SOMERVILLE (CBS) – What can be better than the sights and sounds of the circus? But what if you have vision or hearing impairments? Well, at a unique performance Wednesday by the Big Apple Circus, people with a wide range of disabilities were the guests of honor and it was a special time for everyone under the big top, for the “Circus of the Senses.”
There’s the flying trapeze act, the amazing juggler, the crowd pleasing dog on a scooter and the death defying Fabulous Wallendas, and it’s all in a day’s work for the Big Apple Circus performing in Somerville at Assembly Row.
But look closely. There are also American Sign Language interpreters for kids who can’t hear well, and live audio descriptions for visually impaired kids delivered through special headsets. Everyone is having a ball, and that’s also all in a day’s work at the Circus of the Senses.
“The idea is to be completely inclusive so that everyone can enjoy the show in the way they best perceive it,” explains Lisa Lewis who runs this show for the Big Apple Circus. They’ve been doing this for about 30 years in every city the circus visits.
“This was an amazing performance. My son is deaf so having the interpreter there is really nice,” says parent Key Patterson.
“I think it’s a wonderful chance for us to give back,” says Jenny Vidbel, a circus performer who works with horses and dogs. “For my part I have the animals and there’s really a great connection that happens between these kids and the animals.”
“I just think it’s amazing how there’s a circus just for people with disabilities and all people can come,” says Kalli Row, who has a visual impairment, and has been to the Circus of the Senses several times.
After Wednesday’s performance, some of the kids with vision problems were able to go into the center ring for what they call a “touch session,” petting some of the animals, meeting the performers and trying out a few tricks. The Big Apple Circus also does autism friendly performances.