“Someone bought me a ticket to Billy Elliot – it was amazing – I felt like I could see again.”

“The description was just right, as I had not experienced a described performance before. I was not aware of quite what to expect, but it was perfect.”

Research commissioned by the Society of London Theatre (Access all Areas) found that potential audiences were not always aware that audio description existed. This means that we need to do some explaining. How would assisted performances benefit them? What exactly are they?

We need to present the explanations in ways that will attract the attention of people who do not necessarily consider themselves disabled or to have access needs. And don’t forget about the friends and family of visually impaired people – they may be the ones who suggest trying it out for the first time.

We also need to communicate effectively with ‘gatekeepers’, those people who work, either in a voluntary or professional capacity, supporting or advocating on behalf of blind and partially sighted people, e.g. council support services or social clubs. They need to understand what the experience is like too.

What you can do …

Prepare 3 versions of a service definition that you and other venue staff can use consistently in all your communication materials:

• a single strapline

Live commentary via personal headphones for blind or partially sighted people.

• a brief paragraph

Audio description in theatre is a live verbal commentary providing information on the visual elements of a production as it unfolds. Audio description is a service for anyone who may have difficulty seeing or following the visual elements of a performance.

• a longer, detailed explanation

This would highlight what the service is, how it works, what the patrons need to do to make best use of it and what they might be able expect from the experience.

In the DOWNLOADS section you can print off our suggestion of a longer, detailed explanation.

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