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Live Audio Description Comes to Vancouver

Going to the theatre has taken on a whole new meaning for me since I was introduced to live audio description 1 year ago. I have been to 5 performances so far, and I highly recommend this experience to others who are blind or partially sighted.

VocalEye's live audio description is provided as a service through Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture and is the first initiative of its kind in Canada.

Here is how VocalEye is described on their website:

Kickstart’s live audio description program is the first of its kind in Canada. Our professionally trained team provides vivid vocal description of live theatre and the performing arts to blind and low vision audiences in the Lower Mainland.
Each patron is given a personal receiver with a single earpiece and volume control that allows him or her to hear both the show and our live audio description at the same time. The broadcast begins 15 minutes before curtain with detailed descriptions of the set, characters and costumes. Once the show begins, the describer transmits pertinent physical action and visual detail between the lines of dialogue. Brief program notes are provided at intermission.

VocalEye began its first full season of audio described performances in the fall of 2010. The 2010-11 season, featured livv audio descriptions at 3 venues located in Vancouver and Richmond. , and the roster of performances included such popular hits as Death of a Salesman, The Philanderer and Hair Spray. The 2011-12 season is also turning out to be a great success with audio described performances in Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey. Some of the highlights so far include The Penelopiad   and Calendar Girls at the Stanley Theatre, Red and  La Kajge auz Folles at the Vancouver Playhouse, and Don Quixote at the Surrey Arts Centre. Check out this article in the Surrey Leader to find out more about the performance of Don Quixote. You can also visit the VocalEye website to find out about upcoming performances.

VocalEye has given me a new appreciation for live theatre. When I am at a performance where there is live audio description, I feel as though I am able to fully participate as an  audience member along with everyone else. Live audio description makes it possible for me to follow the story line on my own from beginning to end, and the Audio Describers focus on visual details that can often be missed by sighted companions. I hope that you will check out a performance when you are in the Vancouver area.


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