Audio Description provides access to the visual elements – action, costumes, settings, gestures, facial expressions, objects and other visually communicative elements – of theater, dance or live art performances, television/film screenings, museum exhibitions, academic or industry presentations, even sporting events. Almost any event that has a meaningful visual component can be made more accessible thru Audio Description. Audio Description (AD) is usually a live audio track spoken by a professional audio describer to patrons with visual impairments through a wireless headset system, but the service may also be pre-recorded if appropriate.
During an ASL interpreted performance, every word that is spoken or sung is interpreted into American Sign Language (ASL) by an interpreter standing on stage, so that Deaf members of the audience can understand the play and follow the story. Doing this well depends on an in-depth knowledge of the script, and the two languages. ASL is a visual-gestural language that is distinct from English, with its own grammar, structure and syntax.
HAPTIC ACCESS TOURS
Presented in tandem with the audio description, a Haptic Access Tour is a live pre-show tour that allows patrons to haptically (thru touch, their own movement, hearing and kinesthetic senses) experience the space, performers, costumes and objects in addition to key movement elements in the performance. Usually lasting 20 to 30 minutes and ending 30 minutes before house opening, these tours lay a multi-sensory foundation to support the audio description service and are intended to focus on access for patrons with visual impairments. Other types of pre-show Access Tours may also be constructed to support access for other types of audiences.
A relaxed performance is a specially adapted show, modified for adults and children who might benefit from a more relaxed environment. Typically, they are for people who have autism or have sensory communication disorders or learning difficulties and some theatres also occasionally run them for people with dementia.
Some Articles on Access:
A Guide to Making Theatre Performances More Accessible: http://www.accessibletheatre.org.uk/
Hearing Allyship Guiding Principles: http://www.hearingallyship.org/
A Guide to Sighted Allyhood: https://www.autistichoya.com/2013/08/a-guide-to-sighted-allyhood.html
I Prefer That You Say I’m Disabled: https://www.damemagazine.com/2019/01/15/i-prefer-that-you-say-im-disabled/
Describing Dances: Increasing Access for Blind and Visually Impaired Audiences: https://dancersgroup.org/2019/03/describing-dances-increasing-access-for-blind-and-visually-impaired-audiences/