Accessibility & Audience Services

We strive to provide a welcoming and accessible experience at the opera and are proud to offer audio description and captions above the stage at our performances as well as accessible venues. Explore our audience services below:

What is audio description?

Audio description is a service for people who are blind or low vision that makes visual content accessible, using a single earpiece connected to an assistive listening device. Through the single earpiece patrons can hear audio description that uses vivid, concise language added in between dialogue or sung material to increase comprehension, enjoyment, and inclusion. Additionally, the description includes the captions projected above the stage and can serve patrons who have sight but difficulty reading the titles.

Portland Opera has provided audio description every season since 1995, when the service first became available in the greater Portland area. Audio description is provided by trained members of CADA—Collective of Audio Describers in Arts.

How do I access the audio description?

Patrons can check out a receiver and a single ear bud free of charge at the Coat Check at Portland'5 venues or use their own ear bud with an 1/8” jack. Patrons hear the audio description in one ear while enjoying the performance. Since patrons control their own volume, they may choose to lower the volume during portions of the opera. Fifteen minutes prior to the performance, the audio describer will read the synopsis, program notes, and describe the scenery, costumes, performers, and any special effects and video content.

When are your audio described performances this season?
23/24 Season Described Performances

Portland Opera to Go's Cinderella
Saturday, December 9 at 1pm
Sunday, December 10 at 1pm (Sold out)
The Hampton Opera Center

Get tickets for Saturday.

Enchanted Woods: Shakespeare & Song
Sunday, February 4 at 2pm
Sunday, February 11 at 2pm
The Hampton Opera Center

Get tickets for Feb 4.

Get tickets for Feb 11.

Thompson's The Snowy Day
Sunday, March 24 at 2pm

Get tickets.

What's CADA and how can I get information on described performances from other arts orgs?

We are proud to partner with the Collective for Audio Describers in Arts (CADA for short) to provide a live audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who have low vision, are visually impaired, or blind.

Diane Englert was one of the original members of CADA the organization responsible for bringing audio description to the greater Portland, Oregon region—and served as the program coordinator for five years. She trained audio describers and museum docents to describe live theatre, opera, dance, art exhibits and digital media. Learn more about Diane and CADA here.

A list of all audio described performances in the Portland area for the 2023-24 season can be found at:

What other accessibility services are offered during perfomances?


For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance includes live English captions projected above the stage. Portland Opera does not typically offer ASL Interpreted performances.

Listening Devices

At Portland’5 venues (Keller Auditorium and The Newmark Theatre) we offer patrons assistive listening devices for free at Coat Check in exchange for a ID on a first-come-first-serve basis. ALDs include a headset with receiver as well as neck loops for use with hearing aids and cochlear implants with a “T” switch. ADLs are not available for performances at the Hampton Opera Center.

Mobility Access

Portland’5 venues (Keller Auditorium and The Newmark Theatre) have accessible entrances, elevators on each level, wheelchair and companion seating options, curbside drop-off zone on SW 3rd (also used by ride share drivers), courtesy wheelchairs available at Coat Check (advance requests recommended), and all gender single stall accessible restrooms.

The Hampton Opera Center is equipped with a wheelchair accessible entrance as well as lobby, refreshment areas, a single stall all-gender accessible restroom. The Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre performance venue is on the ground floor with a small slope down to the seating area. Wheelchair and companion seating options are limited at this venue.

To learn more about wheelchair accessible seating contact our friendly Patron Services team at 503-241-1802, Monday - Friday, 10am - 5pm. Visit Portland’5 to learn more about accessibility in their venues here.