Academic develops new technique for visually impaired theatre goers

Blind and visually impaired theatre goers could benefit from a new project where music is used to convey information and mood.

Currently, audio description, a spoken commentary that fits in the gaps between dialogue and is relayed to patrons by wireless headsets, is offered by around 40 per cent of UK theatres.

However, some visually impaired theatre goers dislike the headsets due to the set up time, uncertainty around the technology working and the fact that it singles them out within the audience.

Thus, University of Wolverhampton researcher Dr Mat Dalgleish is exploring new ways to make theatre more enjoyable and accessible to those with sight problems.

He has trialled his specific Ambiently Diffused Soundtrack technique for a performance of the play Bert by Dave Pitt at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton.

“I developed the soundtrack as an alternative approach, using music and sound to set the scene, convey details about the set, create atmosphere and imply emption. I created around 18 pieces that were scored in much the same way as for a film,” he said.

“The music doesn’t override the dialogue and allows for multiple interpretations. The feedback was very positive. People felt it brought ‘colour’ to the performance.”

The project was recently presented at Activating Inclusive Sound Spaces at Huddersfield University and he is looking at further work in this area that combines soundtrack and audio description.

ENDS

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