For Audience Members who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Wild Swan Theater offers two services to theater goers who are blind or hard of sight. Audience members are invited to come backstage before the performance to meet cast members and for a touch tour to feel costumes, puppets, and musical instruments in order to know more about them before the play begins. Actors meet with tour participants and personally guide them around the stage, helping them learn about key visual parts of the production. The tour gives participants a chance to learn how the set is laid out so they have a physical context for experiencing the production. Hearing the actors’ voices ahead of time is also an important part of the tour, helping participants recognize character voices when the play begins.
In addition, audience members may be equipped with a small receiver and earphone which will permit them to hear a description of the sets, costumes, and action of the play during pauses in the dialogue. The describer sits in the light booth and communicates with those using the service over an electronic transmitter. This system allows audience members who are blind to have access to all the visual information expressed in a play. Users of the system are able to hear the dialogue just as the rest of the audience does. This system is called “audio-description” and is regularly used at many theaters in the United States including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
These services are free but need to be reserved in advance by calling (734) 995-0530. Wild Swan Theater gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Buhr Foundation, and the Ann Arbor Host Lions Club for providing audio-description equipment.