What is audio description?
Audio description is a verbal commentary that tells visually impaired theatre-goers what is happening on the stage during the parts of the performance where there is no dialogue (i.e. during fight scenes). The description does not interfere with the performance but fills in the gaps, describing facial expressions, costume, scenery and action sequences so that anyone with a sight problem can follow the plot fully and independently. Many visually impaired theatre-goers are enthusiastic about audio description.
How does audio description work?
The trained describer sits in a soundproof booth or box in the theatre and explains what is happening on the stage. Usually, the describer has seen the performance three or four times before and is well prepared to describe the performance. Visually impaired theatre-goers are equipped with a headset or earpiece before the performance and the description is relayed from the booth to the headset/ear-piece via an infrared or radio sound system.
Can theatre-goers sit in any seat in the theatre?
No, specific seats are allocated in the theatre, mostly in the Stalls or Dress Circle, so there is clear transmission between the describer and the headsets.