Virginia Voice Live Audio Description Program

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. Through Live Audio Description we marry the critical visual elements with the dialogue to create a memorable audio experience.”

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.

Community need

Research from Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired indicates there are approximately 55,000 individuals in Central Virginia who could benefit from audio described theater performances. And research from the American Federation of the Blind predicts that the number of people with vision impairments could double by 2030. 26% or our Virginia Voice listeners told us in our 2017 listener phone survey, that they do not attend local theater performances because of their vision impairment.

Program Details

  • Audio Describers prepare by previewing the show with scripts in hand, making notes of what and when to describe, ensuring the experience works within the artistic design of the show.
  • Using a wireless transmitter, trained describers help theater goers with vision impairments “see” 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 use 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.

What folks are saying about our 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.