Hit it out of the park on access
Story by Matt Lively
Photos by Loren Worthington
While there are few certainties in life, baseball in the summertime is an absolute guarantee.
The inevitable rise in temperature in the valley signifies that the Arizona Diamondbacks are back, year-in and year-out.
The Diamondbacks pride themselves on being one of the most accessible teams in Major League Baseball. They are one of two teams with an ADA manager or position similar to that title, the New York Mets have an accessibility manager.
“The D-backs try their hardest to not just be compliant but also inclusive in every way, they try to go above and beyond,” D-backs Nanette Odell said.
While this commitment is year-round, they hold an annual “Inclusion Day” that brings in 30-40 disability and human service related organizations then offer an opportunity for recognition on the field, games in the Legends Suites and an inclusive place for kids to play.
The Diamondbacks have done their best in regards to accessible seating, allowing for some of the finest views of the ballpark. The Diamondbacks have innovated plenty of other features to make ballgames enjoyable for any fan. Wheelchair escort assistance is offered for those who need help getting to their seating area then back out when they are ready to leave.
Closed Captioning is available on the DBTV, the large centerfield video screen, for all public address announcements. Radios are also available to listen to play-by-play for a fan with hearing loss.
For a fan with vision loss, the team offers a bone conduction headphone. It goes in front of the ear so you can listen to play-by-play of the action while still enjoying the sounds of the game.
The ambience of the crowd and the atmosphere is still present while a fan can know exactly what is happening on the field.
Parents with kids on the autism spectrum can take their kids up to the Suite Level to sit quietly on the couches for a break from the crowd, while still watching the game from the nearby TV’s. For those unsure about what to expect when coming to a game, Pal Experiences has put together a helpful video, booklet and app to give guidance on what to expect at the ballpark found at palexperiences.org.
Odell couldn’t think of a single experience inside the ballpark that hasn’t been reviewed and made available to every fan. Whether it’s running the bases at the end of Sunday games or strolling through the concourse, no one is left out.
When the D-backs created their ADA Manager position they became a proactive team rather than a reactive team. They began doing more work in the offseason to prepare the stadium and their staff members.
Game-day staff receive training before each season, including disability-related training. While the players go to spring training, the staff go to and accessibility training conducted by Odell and many other aspects of training, from other experts.
Maybe the toughest obstacle when it comes to baseball accessibility is deciding where to sit as there are so many great options from the upper concourse all the way to down to behind home plate.
If you happen to have tickets for standard seating but need accessible seating or aren’t able to see the captioning on the DBTV, visit Guest Relations, near Sections 128 on the main concourse and 322 in the upper concourse. The ticket windows next to each have access to options that may be available, depending on inventory and your needs.
The D-backs have made it easy for all baseball fans to enjoy the game, and that’s a guarantee.
Matt Lively is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Originally from South Florida, he has lived in the Valley for three years. His first love is sports and aspires to be a sports broadcaster and story teller in the future.