- Audio Description
Audio Description is useful for people who are blind or visually impaired to access the arts.
Audio description for live performance
This is a live verbal commentary that describes the visual elements of a production as it unfolds, from sets, props and costumes to actors’ facial expressions and movements across the stage. The description is delivered through an individual headset during the quieter moments of a performance and gives essential information that audiences who are blind or visually impaired might miss. Audio described performances will always include programme notes and sometimes will have touch tours on offer before the performance.
Programme notes are sent to audiences before the performance as a recording and in large print text. Programme notes give detailed information about the set, characters and costumes. These programme notes are also read by the audio describers 15 minutes before the performance starts. Visit Arts & Disability Ireland’s archive of programme notes from past performances here
Before an audio described performance audiences are invited to attend a touch tour of the set, the stage, props and costumes. This gives audiences with visual impairments a chance to experience and contextualise the stage.
Audio description for visual art and museums
Visual art galleries and museums can either provide audio description for the duration of an exhibition using Discovery Pens or by programming audio described tours. Audio described tours are typically 30-45 minutes. The audio describer will describe the overall exhibition and space briefly and then describe a selection of artworks in detail.
Using this device audiences who are blind or visually impaired can explore the art works through descriptions, artists’ statements and curatorial statements.
The Discovery Pen is a light handheld device, about the size of an ice-cream cone and similar in shape. On the top is a raised dome covered with small perforations. This is the speaker. The pen, about fifteen centimetres in length, gradually narrows to a blunt point. To access the audio, the blunt point of the pen scans codes that are placed throughout the exhibition.
For more information about audio description for live performance and visual art, please contact Arts & Disability Ireland on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 8509002.
Discovery Pens make art accessible to people with visual impairments by playing audio descriptions of the works, as well as statements by the artists and curators of the exhibition