It can be quite difficult to get coverage about audio description in the mainstream media, but it’s a great way of raising general awareness if you can.
Radio is an excellent medium for spreading the word to visually impaired people and local radio stations are often interested in running small features/competitions, usually giving away free pairs of tickets. Don’t forget internet radio stations as well.
Local talking newspapers may also be willing to run features of listings. Contact them as early as possible, offering to do interviews giving information on the production and description.
What you can do …
The following ‘hooks’ may help:
• Are you about to launch something new to your venue – i.e. an in-house audio description service?
• Are you recruiting or training new describers?
• Do you have a local celebrity/recognisable face who would be happy to endorse AD, speak to the media?
• Have you received sponsorship from anyone, say a local business, for AD performances? Perhaps they would say why the sponsorship was important to them.
• Do you have a local blind or partially sighted audience member who would be willing to act as an Ambassador and who would talk to the press about their experience of audio description and what it means to them? Build up a list of such people for use by your Press Office.
• Ensure that all Press Listings include information on your forthcoming described performances, including a description of what AD is.
• Hold an Information Day/Discover Theatre event to which AD users, local media, theatre personnel and perhaps a describer are invited. Enlist the support of the Artistic Director to show there’s a commitment for access from the very top of the organisation.
What to say?
We’ve included some useful statistics and audience feedback in the DOWNLOADS section but some general points you should try and convey about audio description are:
• It gives equal access to the arts for blind and partially sighted people (social inclusion).
• Good audio description is a skill.
• Visually impaired patrons are able to discuss the show with their friends afterwards.
• Able to enjoy theatre along with their sighted family and friends, i.e. all sit together.
• Makes the difference between following the play and being baffled.
• Brings people back to the theatre after many years’ absence, and sometimes for the first time ever.