395 Azalea Avenue (Mailing Address: PO Box 15546) Richmond, VA 23227 | 804-266-2477

Live Audio Description

Virginia Voice is now offering live audio description to RVA theater performances and other community cultural events.

If you need more information on Live Audio Description or want to use or offer audio accessibility, please contact Jim Wark at (804) 266-2477.

What is Audio Description – “Audio description (AD) is a tool for people who are blind or have low vision that provides access to the visual aspects of theater, media and visual art – and any activity where images are a critical element.”

How it works –  “Using words that are succinct, vivid and imaginative, describers convey visual information that is either inaccessible or only partially accessible to a segment of the population.” Snyder, Joel, ed. Audio Description Guidelines and Best Practices. Vol. 3.1. N.p.: American Council for the Blind, 2010. Print.

Program details

  • Using a wireless transmitter, trained describers help theater goers with vision impairments experience the action on stage as it unfolds in real-time. Careful to not talk over the dialogue, describers bring the visual elements of theater to life for this audience.
  • Live AD patrons borrow a single-ear headphone and a receiver to listen to the description as they are seated with the general audience.
  • Enjoying the performance with family and friends, patrons with vision impairments can have a full theater experience using AD assistive technology that is convenient and unobtrusive.
  • Scheduled to offer Live Audio Description for at least one performance of all of Virginia Repertory Theatre’s Signature Season and Children’s Theatre shows for 2018-2019.
  • Most Live AD performances begin with a “tactile tour,” where our patrons meet the actors and hear their characters’ voices, feel the costumes and props, and walk the stage to become oriented with the set.

What folks are saying about our new program

Because of your description of the action on stage, I was able to laugh along with the rest of the audience rather than wonder what all the laughter was about. – Evelyn Cabrera-Heatwole (blind) used Live Audio Description to access Shakespeare in Love, Oct. 2017.

“As a mom of two daughters who are blind, it was rewarding for me to know that they were getting a FULL experience and not just enjoying the music and the dialogue; listening to the description, they were fully able to keep up with the storyline throughout the performance and could even explain the play to a friend afterwards”.  – Beth Sellars, mom of Stormie (age 10, blind), Taylin (age 12, blind) and Angelina (age 4, sighted) used Live Audio Description for a family day at Mary Poppins – Dec. 2017.