Technology Plays Leading Role in Winnetonka High School Musical

KANSAS CITY, MO — There’s something to be said about the magic of the stage.

But for the visually impaired, attending theater performances can paint an incomplete picture.

However, thanks to some innovative technology, Winnetonka High School is making that magic more inclusive.

For the first time in the history of the North Kansas City school, audio description technology equipment will be provided to the audience, giving visually impaired patrons the opportunity to capture every detail they might otherwise miss while on stage.

“You get more visual context, especially when you can’t actually see it,” said Sarah Coccovizzo, patron of the theater for the visually impaired.

This means that instead of relying on the whispers of the person sitting next to her, she describes every movement directly to Cocovizzo’s ear.

“One of the things we noticed was that we had a very diverse audience,” says assistant director Paul Hackenberg. “Today, we want to provide a more comprehensive theater experience for the visually impaired.”

The technology doesn’t just help customers. It also made it a little easier for scenes with Coccovizzo’s sister Terra, who is also visually impaired and is one of the cast members of this fall’s musical “Melee.”

“They were so patient and helpful every step of the way, and I can’t thank you enough,” Terra Coccovizzo said. Everyone should know.”

For the two sisters, the opportunity was more than just a role. It’s about being part of something bigger.

“I’m absolutely happy and proud of her tonight!” sister Kokoviczo said.

Winnetonka High School’s musical “Scrimmage” continues Friday night.

These devices are provided through a partnership with the Audio-Reader Network, a service of the University of Kansas.

Winnetonka said it was one of the first high schools in the Kansas City area to offer the experience.

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