ADA Lifts for Performing Arts Centers

Think about a recent symphony or other sophisticated event in your auditorium. An MC takes the microphone before the show and reminds patrons to:

  • Turn off their cell phones,
  • Unwrap their cough drops before the music starts.

Question: If unwrapping a cough drop during the symphony is too disturbing, why would anyone want to hear something that sounds like a gigantic drill, a laboring garbage truck, or a busy auto body shop?

Answer: Nobody would.

When searching the internet for ADA lifts, you may notice that most of the information you find on the internet is visual. There are no sound clips. That’s because noise is a detractor for most lifts. Hence, many people researching lifts think only about visual aesthetics, but they forget about noise.

Minimal Distractions

An important prelude to your researching wheelchair lift options is to consider where the lift will be used. What happens there? When is the lift most likely to be used?

If you need a lift for the parking deck, you can probably relax. That location should be far enough away from the stage that you don’t need to worry about noise. You may not even care about appearances way out there.

However, if the lift will be in the lobby, you will not want a patron riding in a 75dB lift during a performance. Sound carries. Even during intermission, 75dB is a lot of noise pollution for your refined venue (compare 75dB to a vacuum cleaner 3 paces away from you).

Odds are you will want to find something a little quieter for your lobby. You might care about the looks as well.

If you put a lift in back of the stage for performers to use, and you will definitely want to keep the noise down. You may not care how it looks back there, but how it sounds is another matter. Less than 70dB would be nice, which is the level of normal speech at 3 feet.

In some auditorium designs, you have only one choice for stage access: to put the lift right at the stage apron. Now, you will need the quietest unit money can buy! You will probably also want the best-looking lift money can buy, as it will be there for everyone to see.

Ideally, it should have a low profile instead of a conspicuous housing for its drive system. Is it possible to find an ADA-compliant wheelchair lift that runs quietly and has a low profile? Try refining your internet search to something like…

  • “Wheelchair lift in front of a stage” or
  • “Wheelchair lift for performing arts stage” or
  • “Wheelchair lift for orchestra pit” or
  • “Quiet wheelchair lift for auditorium”

…and these phrases might give you some useful search results.

The combination of a quiet, low-profile lift is uncommon, but not unheard-of. Genuine Ascension lifts are one example. Since their beginnings in 1993, Ascension lifts have been designed to complement the front of auditorium stages, from the smallest school cafetoriums to the largest concert halls in the world.


Let’s first put the price tag in perspective. Take a moment to consider your major auditorium-related investments. These are the investments you have made to bring top-quality performances to your community.

If you have even a modest venue, you probably own sound and lighting systems that cost at least a significant fraction of a million dollars.

Do you have a concert grand piano? Maybe two? You may have spent just as much on one of them as on your lights and sound. We won’t even mention your 75-rank pipe organ that was a bargain at $1.5 million!

Now ask yourself: Why would you skimp on something that has the potential to ruin the spell-binding aesthetic and experience you have worked so hard to establish for your patrons?

You could cut corners, or you could do your venue and your patrons an incredible favor by getting a premium ADA lift.

Read: Is a Cheap Lift Enough?


“The Brockville Arts Centre was very pleased with the excellent service and technical support we received from Ascension. Their technical department worked with our designers to come up with a solution that allows wheelchair patrons to access both our stage and orchestra pit. Our sales consultant was extremely knowledgeable, easy to work with and professional at all times. They delivered a 1st class product and exceptional customer service. We highly recommend them.” Watch the Brockville Arts Centre’s facility video on YouTube: “Accessibility at the Brockville Arts Centre”

Peter Dunn, Administrator of Cultural Programs
Brockville Arts Centre
Brockville, ON Canada

“I couldn’t ask for a better piece of equipment – everything is fine with the wheelchair lift and it is performing excellently in our Vert Auditorium. The wheelchair lift is everything that I expected, and the quality is excellent. We have a symphony orchestra that plays on our stage regularly. Several of their entertainers are handicapped. They greatly appreciate the unit and they can use it as they need with very little effort. We have currently had several ADA inspections of the theater facility and everybody always admires the fact that we have that fantastic ADA stage lift.”

Glenn S. Graham, Facilities & Technology Manager
City of Pendleton
Pendleton, OR

“We purchased an Ascension lift when we renovated our Municipal Auditorium. We had seen stage lifts before that were unattractive, blocked the view of the stage and were generally ‘in the way’. The ascension lift is attractive and rests entirely below the stage level when not in use. More importantly, when it is not needed, it can be rolled off into the store room where it is completely out of sight and out of the way. We did have a few issues when we first received our lift, but I am happy to say that the staff at Ascension was very helpful and made sure that our lift was working and fully met our expectations. You can find cheaper lifts out there, you won’t find a better lift for your public facility.”

Paul L. Adams, Director of Parks & Recreation
City of South Gate
South Gate, CA

“We have been very pleased with the Ascension Vertical Portable Wheelchair Lift. It has served our patrons tremendously.”

Beth Peacock, Facility & Events Manager
Joplin Memorial Hall
Joplin, MO

“Thanks for a job well done. We received your lift today for use in our Santa Rosa Veterans Center and we are very impressed with the unit’s design and quality. It arrived on schedule and in great condition. I was very impressed with the attention to all the details. Thank you very much for your quality workmanship.”

Dale Wittman, Project Specialist
Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Hall
Santa Rosa, CA

“Southern Hills Arts Council, Jackson, Ohio, is renovating a 1930 Art Deco movie house to serve as a community cultural arts center. When we began to work on the auditorium, we knew we would want some method of access for those who either need a wheelchair or for whom the stairs are a bit too much. We installed an Ascension lift and are quite happy with this piece of equipment. First and foremost, it is safe and easy to operate. It is of sufficient capacity that a mobile person can ride up and down with a less mobile individual, providing an extra sense of security. We like the fact that the lift can be raised onto wheels in short order and moved. Because we are renovating in stages, we have had to move the lift to accomplish a couple of phases, such as treating the concrete floor. We are nearly as pleased with the look of this lift as its many practical aspects. Throughout this renovation, we have worked tirelessly to create a beautiful space. Frankly, we were worried that a lift would mar our efforts. We even spoke of trying to hide the piece under a cover. When we saw the Ascension, we knew instantly that this would not be necessary. The sleek black design, lack of a tower, and ample use of glass help the Ascension lift blend in without troubling the eye. In short, we are pleased with our new Ascension and hope this piece of equipment will serve us well into the future.”

Barbara Summers, Executive Director
Markay Cultural Arts Center
Jackson, OH

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