Toronto Metropolitan University
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Inclusive Design, Audio Description, and Diversity of Theatre Experiences

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posted on 2021-05-21, 15:20 authored by Margot Whitfield, Deborah I. Fels
The conventional approach to audio description (AD) uses third-person narrative, factual delivery style, post-planning, and third-party delivery, making it incompatible with inclusive design principles and equitable access to sensory stimuli. This paper discusses Clay & Paper Theatre’s alternative AD approach, involving actors, script writers, musicians and directors. With no previous exposure to inclusive design, the creative team developed the design process: script modification, characters and music integration, and sensory tour presentation. Innovative methodology taught actors and directors to think about accessibility from the start of their creative processes. Actors found the inclusive design process useful in developing a better understanding of character roles. Audience members enjoyed the play through the role of music and its link to the narrative and characterization. Clay & Paper Theatre’s alternative AD approach exemplifies social innovation in inclusive theatre design for blind and low vision (B/LV) audiences, with an emphasis on process and service outcomes.