Making the Visual Verbal – Audio Description in Australia

Bistro 1, Wed 4th Oct, 1:30pm, 2 Hours Facilitator: Will McRostie 1st Provocateur: Jody Holdback

Audio description is an additional commentary that provides information on the visual elements of a performance, as it unfolds. It allows people who are Blind or vision-impaired to experience theatre, and provides patrons a full and equitable experience. Learn about the state of Audio Description in Australia, and learn how audio describers make the visual verbal in a workshop by leaders in the field Access2Arts and Description Victoria.

Key Points (Updated Live)

  • The space was audio-described for the audience

  • Equity of access: ticket holders being able to get an equal experience.

  • A video was played three times: first time without visual, only film audio; second time accompanied by an audio description; and third time with visual, film audio, and audio description.

  • Another form of storytelling: putting the content into context e.g. a montage at the beginning of a film that has no dialogue; theatrical language used to describe.

  • The responsibility of the interpreter: must remain impartial; relaying visual information as accurately as possible for users to be able to interpret the meaning themselves.

  • To provide audio description for a show: audio describers must be contacted early on in the production process; they work from a script and early runs of the show; they create a pre-recorded version of the audio description is provided; a touch tour or tactile tour is sometimes conducted before the show for patrons to meet actors, walk the perimeters of the set, feel costumes or props.

  • What are the desired qualities of an audio describer? Seamless delivery; tone internation; appropriate mood.

  • Casting of audio describers: should be matched to context of production and nationality and gender is considered.

  • Negotiating language: Balancing descriptive language and how specific to be; choose most relevant language.

  • Audience was separated into three groups to engage in audio description activities: an exercise in describing the movements of small mechanical toys; an exercise in describing a poster image; and an exercise in describing an object.

  • The groups shared their attempts at audio description with each other

  • How can you incorporate accessibility into your work? It can challenge your creativity in a positive way. How do you create work that is accessible to everyone?