Providing Inclusive Accessibility Measures

Industrial Arts Brewing in Garnerville, New York has added American Sign Language brewery tours to its schedule. 

After two successful tours, with the first on Feb. 22, tours have now been suspended until further notice in response to the recommendations of local officials and medical authorities.

Christine Olivier, Programs and Events Manager, spearheaded the project as a way to expand the brewery’s accessibility initiative, which has been in development since October. She credits the entire brewery for its accessibility measures before this though, saying that even before she started working for the brewery, it already had many accessibility measures in place.

Founder/Proprietor Jeff O’Neil and Brand Director (Formerly General Manager) Sofia Barbaresco are responsible for the design and implementation of front of house venues and services, such as wheelchair ramps.

“We want to serve our community locally and regionally,” Olivier said. “We want to serve people who love our beer, and have relationships with our brand and love the craft beer industry as a whole. We just want to serve those people better.”

Olivier said that the staff has worked very closely with the ASL interpreter who is leading the tours.

“She has really helped us design this program. She’s had multiple tours of the production site to make sure that all of the jargon is appropriate and translates correctly,” Olivier said. “We’ve also worked with members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to make sure that everybody feels represented and that we’re taking all the appropriate steps to do this properly.”

The facility in Garnerville is located in a 19th century textile mill in a 14 acre historic district that has been turned into an arts and industrial cooperative.

Tours start in the brewhouse, doubling as a taproom, and guests follow the pipes to the cellar where the wort is moved, while learning about the fermentation process as well as the history of the district and buildings.

The ASL tours are 30 minutes, and an interpreter will help with bar services for 90 minutes following the tour. Industrial Arts has large print and braille menus for guests as well.

“It’s a way for us to make sure that if our bar staff isn’t fluent in American Sign Language, we want to make sure we are still capable of communicating deeply about products,” Olivier said. “Beer education and feelings of closeness and community between bar staff and patrons is an important thing to us.”

Photo by Susan Stava

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