By Jordan Sickon

Live theatre productions, Oscar nominations and 2015 Blockbusters, all made accessible with the help of a hand-held device and some headphones…

Headphones and an empty disc case

Headphones and an empty disc case

Though it may be hard to believe an element of technology now so imbedded in modern culture could have a definite starting point, Audio Description emerged in 1974 as a simple idea. From the beginning of its concept to the signing of the 21st Century Communications and Visibility Act in 2010, entertainment all over the country has become more accessible due to Audio Description. This contraption makes live performance or any other kind of visual media easier to follow for those who are blind. With the use of Audio Description, stage directions and small details are presented to the listener, filling in what could be missed during the show.

Though the invention’s first physical model was designed in 1981, the device didn’t flourish until decades later. In 2009, The American Council of the Blind kick-started Audio Description through the The Audio Description Project, a successful venture that promotes the use of the audio advancement in theatre, museums, television, and other forms of performing arts. The Project not only serves as an advocate but is also used as an informative platform for all things related to Audio Description. Its website offers discussion posts, training and education opportunities to help the public get involved.

Audio Description, which has become more incorporated in numerous entertainment platforms, is now used in theatres all over the country, from Community Theatres in Iowa to New York City’s Broadway. Netflix has gotten involved, both in Netflix originals such as “House of Cards” and in many other shows featured on the website. A majority of new movies have the same feature, as well the ever-popular Star Wars series and its newest edition, “The Force Awakens.”

For more information on Audio Description or on training and education opportunities, please visit The Audio Description Coalition’s website.

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