On Sunday, 15 March, we presented our first ever audio-described performance (at the Sydney Opera House, no less!).
Audio-description is provided for people who are blind or have low vision; individuals using this service listen through a special headset.
The audio-description was given by Steven McAuley who provided live, objective verbal descriptions of the performance that helped listeners visualise the stage setting, interactions of the musicians and actors, and images displayed on a large screen set behind the orchestra.
The ACO’s audio described performance of Reflections on Gallipoli is part of the Sydney Opera House’s 2015 Access program. Staff and equipment were provided free of charge by the SOH.
We caught up with the participants following the concert to hear what they thought of our very first audio-described concert.
I would like to commend the ACO for this ground-breaking concert. For too long the myths that have surrounded the Gallipoli landing have obscured the realities of the Australian experience of war. Perhaps now on the Hundred Year Anniversary, when the survivors and their immediate families are no longer with us, is the time for the naked and ugly truth and disassembly of the “Boys Own” stories we have heard all our lives … The entire programme was a triumph in concept and performance.
The use of audio equipment during the performance gave me a much enhanced experience. I hope that your use of this facility will continue if and when it seems appropriate. The service given to the several blind patrons was both helpful and considerate. Steve’s, the audio describer, voice over contribution was first class and he is to be commended for his efforts. I heard every word of his commentary and his very calm quiet voice was particularly appropriate.
My thanks and appreciation to you for inviting me to participate in this exciting innovation.
I thought ACO did a fantastic job. The equipment was well explained and very easy to use, and the sound quality was perfect. The balance between describing and just allowing us to listen was very good and the audio describer had a great feel for the mood of the performance, speaking at all the right times, and remaining silent at others.
Thank you and the ACO for the opportunity to participate in your trial of ‘Audio Description’ equipment for the vision impaired. Firstly the music: the programming of the music was superb. This alone made the experience well worth the effort we had to make to get to the concert. Audio Description: by far the most important facet of the performance was the visual elements of the production. The visuals were absolutely stunning even for someone with very limited vision. The Audio Description further enhanced the experience. The commentary was precise and detailed enough for me to use what vision I have to make sense of the graphics. The more detailed description in the second half was a major plus.
Thank you for allowing people who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to experience and provide feedback to the audio described performance. I absolutely loved every minute of it! As for the performance, it was absolutely beautiful and I love, love, loved the audio description. I honestly have nothing else to add here except that it was truly stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!
Again, thank you so much for inviting me to participate in the testing of the audio described performance.
An excellent example of inclusive arts from beginning to end, congratulations.
Pictured: ACO subscriber Mr D’Arcy Sharpe & Customer Relations and Access Manager Dean