Live AD Attendee Stories

The Sellars Family

Taylin, age ten, was born blind and has light perception only. We knew she was blind at birth- she was born at only 23 weeks weighing 1 pound, 5oz, so the chances of her having usable vision were slim. But at age 5, we found out that she also has Optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH).

Stormie, age eight, is losing her vision due to a genetic condition called ATP8A2. She still has some residual vision within about a three-foot range. Peripheral vision is better than central.

I saw a pdf of the Mary Poppins poster on Facebook in a Virginia parents of blind children group. I was super excited because neither of my kids had ever been to a live performance with descriptions before. They had been to live performances with “Mommy descriptions” and they love movies with audio descriptions, so I knew they would love a live described performance, especially something like Mary Poppins. Richmond is only two hours from our home and that was definitely worth the drive for something this special.
My kids especially enjoyed the pre-shoe tactile tour. It allowed them to acclimate to the show before it started and understand more of what they would be seeing.

The whole family enjoyed the performance including myself, my sighted four-year old and both blind kids. Three of us participated with descriptions. Taylin’s only complaint was that there was sometimes static in the earpiece that distracted her from the performance. Stormie had no complaints. She thought it was great. All three kids asked to go see the performance again the next day!
Virginia Voice and Virginia Rep were very accommodating for us. We were allowed to bring and use a special seat to support Stormie’s mobility needs, and were granted a front row aisle seat to give her the needed leg room due to her physical disability. We were assisted with mobility needs and everyone was very friendly.

I would encourage all families of blind kids to seek out an audio described live performance. It is an experience that your child will never forget, and a way for them to fully experience live theatre without missing out on all the visual elements.
The descriptions of the actions in the show were rich and detailed. Even Taylin, with no functional vision, was fully able to keep up with the storyline throughout the performance and could explain the play to a friend afterwards. It was rewarding for me, as a mom, to see her experience a show and know that she was getting the full experience, not just “enjoying the music” or picking up on a few pieces here and there.
When I asked the girls what their favorite parts of the show were, Taylin said, “I liked the descriptions best” and Stormie said she liked all of it.