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Audio description training for museum and gallery staff

Posted: 9 September, 2019

In February 2019 Arts & Disability Ireland organised two days of audio description training with Anne Hornsby of Mind’s Eye Description.

Anne is the pioneer of audio description in the UK and has three decades of audio description experience under her belt. For more information about Mind’s Eye Description and Anne’s work click here.

The purpose of the training was to give gallery and museum staff the skills and confidence to deliver audio described experiences for their visitors with visual impairments. We learned how to describe 2D, 3D, film works and to deliver audio described tours. Everyone took part in Disability Equality Training delivered by our own Executive Director Pádraig Naughton alongside Blind Awareness and Etiquette Training by Anne Hornsby. This gave everyone the tools to provide high quality and thought through experiences for their visitors with visual impairments from beginning to end. Anne even worked with participants on the quality of their voice as they deliver live and recorded descriptions!

Our partners the Butler Gallery very kindly hosted this training in their current home at Kilkenny Castle. Being nestled in the surrounds of the castle as it buzzed with tourists made for the perfect environment to think about how to deliver these tours. Butler Gallery provided a selection of incredible art works from their Permanent Collection for us to work from. We also had a visit to the Spitting Image exhibition by Eva O’Leary which was in their gallery space at the time. Working with actual art works while learning about audio description was incredibly valuable for all involved. It was such a treat for a group of people passionate about art to get up close and personal with works by some of our favourite Irish artists like Grace Henry, Evie Hone, Brian Maguire and Janet Mullarney.

After the initial two days of training the participants returned to their galleries and museums and were tasked with delivering one audio described experience for visitors with visual impairments within 6 months. The participants also organised and hosted meetups to practice and share their experiences of delivering audio described tours. Jessica O’Donnell hosted the first meetup in March at The Hugh Lane Gallery, Kate Drinane hosted the second in May at the National Gallery of Ireland and Jenny Papassotiriou hosted the third in June at Dublin Castle. Having the opportunity to check in with one another and problem solve together was a real added bonus.

To wrap up Anne Hornsby travelled to Dublin for a follow up in early September 2019. This was hosted by Leah Hilliard and the National College of Art and Design. Throughout the training we were lucky to have our audio describers Bríd Ní Ghruagáin and Máirín Harte pitch in with their invaluable experience.

A big thank you to those who gave their time to and supported this training!
Everyone who participated is keen to put their new skills to use. If you know of anyone who would be interested in an audio described tour at any of these galleries or museums do get in touch with them for a chat.

Participants were from galleries and museums based in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kilkenny:
Aideen Quirke – Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
Bairbre-Ann Harkin – IMMA and dlr LexIcon Gallery, Dublin
Clair O’Brien – Galway Arts Centre
Fala Buggy – Butler Gallery, Kilkenny
Jenny Papassotiriou – Dublin Castle
Jessica O’Donnell –The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin
Kate Drinane – National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
Leah Hilliard – Visual Artist and NCAD, Dublin
Liz Coman – The LAB Gallery, Dublin
Tadgh Crowley – The Glucksman, Cork

Amie Lawless, Project Manager, Arts & Disability Ireland

Anne Hornsby and participants at Kilkenny Castle

Anne Hornsby with participants at NCAD

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