Imagine you’re sitting in the dark of a theatre, enjoying a show.
A man and a woman talk, their voices becoming heated. Suddenly – there’s a bang and a thump. Then – silence.
What just happened?!
This is often the experience of theatre for people who are blind or vision impaired. You could lean over to your friend and ask, but that’s just going to annoy everyone else. And besides, why should your friend have to spend the whole show whispering in your ear?
Visual description is the practice of adding live or pre-recorded verbal information that allows people who are blind or vision impaired equal enjoyment of and participation in the arts.
In live performances and in-person tours, verbal description is delivered via a narrowcast FM transmission system. Describers sit in a bio-box or crying room, and speak into a transmitter. Patrons receive a personal receiver and headset that allows them to tune in when and how they wish.
Description Victoria was founded by professional describer Will McRostie in 2016. So far, I have been working largely for free, funding the start-up costs for this project out of pocket. Your support will mean less time and money spent acquiring gear, and more time and money spent describing shows, training new describers, and working with the community to develop the audience.
We have purchased a Listen Technologies transmitter with support from the Awesome Foundation and participants in The Money at Melbourne Festival.
We now need your support to purchase the receivers, headsets and a portable charging case. Owning these outright will give us the flexibility to offer a more affordable, adaptive, and innovative service to arts clients across the state. Owning this equipment will also facilitate the training of new describers in July 2017.
My current clients include Malthouse Theatre, Next Wave Festival and UK comedian Liz Carr, and I’m currently in negotiations with many other Victorian arts institutions to roll out this vital service.
You can find more about the service at www.descriptionvictoria.com.au