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Henkilökunta bloggaa 23.1.2014

Accessibility benefits all

Sometimes I hear somebody saying, that "improving accessibility serves only small minorities". I couldn't disagree more.

People photographed form behind, sitting in a theatre hall, with headphones on
Audio description at the Finnish National Ballet.

In November I had a unique chance to experience Sleeping Beauty audio described at The Finnish National Ballet. Audio description benefits especially visually impaired people, because the visual part of the performance or art piece is described to the listener. I have so-called normal eyesight, but the audio description blew my mind. Without the description, I would have missed so much details, so much information and so many things happening on the stage, that the experience could have never been the same.

A man holding a silver head of a deer, part of costume. Two ladys touching it

Timo Sokura presents a deer head, which was part of the costumes of the Sleeping Beauty.

Before the performance of the Sleeping Beauty, we also had a chance to touch the costumes and props of the show, and we also got some background information about ballet. The audio describers told us about the basic ballet movements and positions and what it is like to be a professional ballet dancer. That also helped me to understand the performance better.

The National Ballet has got a lot of positive feedback of the audio description. The best part is, that they have also heard wishes like "could the audio description be offered to everyone in the future?" Personally, I would always like to hear description in ballet and dance performances - it was so great!

People sitting in a circle and touching a pink ballet costume
It was also important to get an idea of what costumes are like.

The Finnish National Opera (under the same organization as the National Ballet) has also got positive feedback about their opera performances, which have been interpreted to Finnish Sign Language. People have said, that although they don´t understand Finnish Sign Language, they really enjoyed the expressiveness of the interpretation and thought that it made the experience deeper.

Another good example is theatre captioning. Theatre captioning means that the audience can read the dialog as a real-time-text during the performance. STAGETEXT found out, that only 5 % of people coming to watch a theatre play say in advance, that they would like to have theatre captioning. But after seen the captioned performance, almost a third of the audience thought the captioning was useful. (Lovett 21.1.2013) Do you always catch everything the actors say?

Accessibility benefits not only the minorities but us all!

Text and photos by Outi Salonlahti

Article about the audio description of the Sleeping Beauty is available in Finnish at our website.
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