Embracing inclusivity: first audio described performance a success

Audio Description Receivers waiting for patrons

More than 20 blind and low-vision audience members and their companions attended a groundbreaking performance of Bethune Imagined at Factory Theatre on November 30: sets, lighting, costumes, and action were brought alive by trained describers providing live descriptions through individual headsets during the pauses in performance dialogue. This first for Toronto was made possible by the Sun Life Financial Performing Arts Access Program, a partnership between Picasso PRO and Creative Trust with the generous support of Sun Life Financial. A pilot series of audio described and ASL interpreted performances will be rolled out over the next year in Toronto theatres, providing blind and low-vision and Deaf and hard of hearing patrons with the opportunity to fully experience the work on Toronto stages. Judging from the enthusiastic feedback following the show and the excitement and pride felt by everyone involved, this is an overdue and most welcome initiative in expanding access to live performing arts. As Artistic Director (and show writer and director Ken Gass) said, theatres in Toronto can now reach beyond diversity to embrace true inclusivity.

Audio Describer Peter Cavell hands out receivers to eager patrons.

Kat Leonard and Elizabeth Saunders describing the performance.

A crowd of patrons eagerly awaiting the preshow Audio Description

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