In the not too distant future audio description of visual content for people who are blind or have low vision will become part of main stream culture.
Just as people who are deaf require subtitles, people who are blind or have low vision need audio description to follow TV shows, movies and live theatre.
Below is a story about a blind year 10 girl, Micaela, who is a student at Rutherglen High School. Micaela is off to see The Lion King with her class later this month. The session she will attend will have live audio description so she can enjoy the show with her friends and classmates. Audio description is a free service provided by Vision Australia to people who are blind or have low vision.
The Lion King Stage show has theatre goers mesmerised. The spectacular costumes, set design and props used to tell the story are a feast for the eyes and have delighted 75 million people worldwide.
Year 10 Rutherglen High School students will be going to The Regent Theatre Melbourne to see The Lion King later this month. Micaela Schmidt is one of these students and like her classmates; she is very much looking forward to it.
Micaela has an eye condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis and she has been blind since birth. When she goes to see The Lion King she will require audio description to follow the story.
Thanks to the availability of audio description this avid theatre goer is able to get the most out of theatre productions.
“I had the pleasure of seeing both Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady audio described in Melbourne a few years ago” said Miceala.
Vision Australia offers audio description in live theatre shows. The service gives people who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to see the latest theatre shows with live description of movements, gestures, props, settings, costumes and scenery.
Highly trained Vision Australia volunteer describers see the theatre production a number of times prior to the sessions they describe.
As she enters the theatre, Micaela will collect a receiver and a single earpiece which will allow her to sit in any area of the theatre. The describers, working in pairs transmit from a soundproof booth during the show, describing the on stage action live.
When Rutherglen High School booked tickets to The Lion King for their students, they were not aware that the audio description service was available. As it happens the session they booked was not a scheduled audio described session, of which there are two, on the 4th and 6th of June. Approximately three dozen people will utilise this free service on these dates and the Vision Australia Audio Description team are delighted to be in a position to extend this opportunity to meet the needs of Micaela.
Just like anyone else people who are blind or have low vision like to go to the theatre, to the art gallery, to see movies and watch TV shows. These are things that need not be exclusively for the sighted community. Audio Description essentially opens the arts world to people who are blind or have low vision
It’s said that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words.’ If you’re a person who is blind or has low vision and you can’t see ‘the picture’ then you’re going to need the words.
For more information about Audio Description contact Michael.Ward@visionaustralia.org