Access Virginia: Electrifying the theater experience for persons with disabilities

Lois Boyle

Access Virginia was born in 2010 as a for-profit organization that was developed by Lois Boyle, a grateful woman of abundant compassion who continuously strives to make a difference in the lives of others within her community. Despite the daunting application process, Access Virginia was granted exemplary status and deemed a highly successful, nonprofit organization in 2014. 

Boyle works countless hours to provide an enlightening, interactive and artistic experience for those with hearing or vision loss. “What I love is that they have the opportunity to go and see an entertainment show or participate in the workshops so they can participate in the arts as well,” says Boyle. 

Boyle aims to provide not only a safe space but also a comfortable environment where life-long friendships are made. When asked how her success compares with her initial expectations, Boyle says, “We started out working with one theater and now we have six across the local region. We also have two accessible workshops that we conduct in partnership with local theatrical companies which I didn’t expect in the beginning.” 

Access Virginia provides captioning, audio description and accessibility, as well as an interactive experience with artistic works, including programs that cater to children with hearing or vision loss. When asked what her favorite aspect is about Access Virginia, Boyle states, “I love the fact that these folks are so appreciative of just being able to participate with everyone else, both persons with vision and hearing loss, because the world is catering to those with disabilities. Without accommodations they would be excluded.” 

Boyle explains that these accommodations are especially helpful for young children because they get to meet other students with similar struggles, allowing them to find a sense of belonging, along with having the opportunity to create life-long friendships. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, Boyle managed to keep Access Virginia afloat by providing an interactive, virtual experience to viewers across the country as well as internationally. “We were even able to caption and audio-describe several movies using Zoom. Over the next few years, I plan to expand Access Virginia so that we are able to provide services to persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth,” says Boyle. 

Being family oriented, Boyle has been married to her husband for more than 40 years. They share two children, Tiffany, Newport News Commissioner of Revenue, and Brian, a mechanical engineer in St. Petersburg, Florida. Boyle also enjoys spring gardening as well as reading novels by John Grisham and Tom Clancy in her spare time. 

Through her dedication and devotion, Boyle continues to open doors for persons with disabilities across the region. 

TO THE POINT:
Access Virginia
Contact: Lois Boyle, owner
Phone: 757-276-1761
Website: easyaccess.virginia.gov

About Kayla Brundick 6 Articles
Kayla Brundick is a senior at Christopher Newport University (CNU) in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in English with a writing concentration. Alongside her academic course work, Kayla is also a social media promoter for the CNU Writing Center, gaining substantial social media marketing and writing skills. Outside of academics, she enjoys reading, writing, spending time with friends and family and traveling to new places. After graduation, Kayla will pursue a career in public relations as well as obtaining a master’s degree in English writing.