There are a few different ways to engage with (and make your show accessible to) the blind and low vision community. The key methods are Audio Description and Touch/Tactile Tours, as well as making a few production/venue considerations.
What is Audio Description?
Audio Description (AD) refers to an additional narration track for blind and low vision audience members. It consists of a narrator talking into a radio transmitter throughout the performance, describing what is happening on the stage during the natural pauses in the audio. Audience members have an earpiece that receives this information.
How to start?
Audio description is a great opportunity to expand the creativity of your work and learn about how to use and incorporate this technology
- Union House Theatre owns an Audio Description System which is available for use on request.
- Please come and talk to Union House Theatre about your audio description requirements – we can put you in touch with some organizations such as Description Victoria or Vision Australia who can help you out with training or services and more information.
Get the Facts: Audio Description by Arts Access Victoria: www.artsaccess.com.au/audio-description-facts
Touch or Tactile tours are facilitated, guided tours offered before a show begins. People from the blind and low vision community can touch the set and costume to build an understanding or the elements of a show.
It is important that at least 50% of participants are from within the Blind and low vision community to ensure these audience members don’t feel uncomfortable about the presence of the able gaze.
These are a great addition to the Audio Described experience as the audience members have more information about what is being described once the performance commences. If you are unable to provide a tactile tour, another option can be to send out accessible descriptions of the set, cast and costumes a week in advance of the performance.
Get the Facts: Touch Tours by Arts Access Victoria:
Before and After the Performance
Here are some things that you need to take into account before and after the performance to ensure your show is accessible to the Blind and low vision community.
Before entering the building
- All communication should use plain text documents (word docs, avoid tables, etc) so that documents are easily accessible via screen reader technology.
- Screen reader software is commonly used by the Blind and low vision community to access information.
- Information which can be sent to audience members might include:
- Marketing, ticketing and booking information
- Correct address, locations of taxi drop offs and public transport
- Pre-show notes. This includes set, costume, and other visual elements. Have these on your website or sent via email
- Whether there will be guides into the venue and/or from the box office to allocated seats
- Any information that all audience members can access before or at the venue
- If you have decided to have an Audio described performance promote your work through-
Venue Considerations and Front of House
- Ensure that there is clear access and pathways throughout the entire venue
- Make sure there is space and water for Guide Dogs.
- Is there braille and/or large print signage at the venue?
- Consider having guides/ ushers
- To assist audience members into the venue.
- To usher people to their seats.
- It is important to ask your audience how they would like to be escorted