Audio Description International
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
March 23-24, 2002
Audley Blackburn emphasized the work that is being done in Austin with young people. Jesse Minkert noted his work with the Seattle Children's Theater and AD provided for schooltime performances, often with the cost of tickets and bus transportation covered by state agencies.
Richard Harris about the availability of more information on equipment and its uses in different settings. Jesse Minkert noted that equipment advances are occurring rapidly, e.g., portable systems using digital signals, and sympathized with the notion that users who have equipment difficulties may be unlikely to try AD another time. He suggested having backup systems available at all times. Adam Westlund offered that his organization has had good results with the use of two Williams Sound transmitters and tunable receivers that can be set to either of two different channels. Audley Blackburn's organization has volunteers who focus their service on work with equipment, checking the equipment at each theater. Betty Siegel of the Kennedy Center has a brochure available that provides information and lists the various manufacturers of FM and infrared audio transmission equipment. She informed the group that the equipment was originally developed for classroom use and transmission over relatively short distances. Jesse Minkert suggested that ADI maintain this sort of information on its web site. Michael Mooney emphasized the value of information in lobbies, printed programs, and in mailings that can ultimately build AD use via friends and family of AD users. He also noted the Paper Mill Theater's membership in the New Jersey Theater Alliance and its guide to accessible theater and its assistance to New Jersey theaters who are grantees of the New Jersey State Arts Council and are required to be accessible.
Vince Lombardi prefers an FM system avoiding the "line of sight" requirements of infrared system. As far as involving the theaters where AD is offered, Vince suggested announcements from the stage as a valuable technique, mentions in the playbills with a description of AD and bios of the describers, and use of radio reading services as an outreach vehicle. On-air interviews with cast members, theater personnel, and the describers are useful publicity methods. He also highlighted the value of tactile tours, especially for young audiences. An unidentified speaker suggested using a music CD or audiocassette to help users know if a receiver is functioning when they first turn it on. Mary Knapp told of her theater's collaboration with local therapeutic recreation departments, eager for activities for their low vision clients. She also spoke of her work with a local girl scout troupe that includes hearing impaired and visually impaired students who work as volunteers in the theater. An unidentified speaker asked if a list of organizations offering AD and contact information/web sites is available. Barry Levine mentioned that that would be a quite natural aspect of the ADI website under development. Clare Stewart noted that it seemed as though the responsibility for audience development most often rests with the organization providing the description service. She offered that it really should be part of the theater's work in building its audiences generally. David Baquis reminded the group that AD can be applied to a range of business settings and reach beyond theaters, e.g., on web sites, in particular, as required of government agencies by Title 508 regulations.
Jesse Minkert maintained that individual theaters are often uninterested in marketing access services, so constant reminders are required. Audley Blackburn suggested links to individual websites on the ADI website, as well as descriptions of the various AD providers around the world. Valerie Ching emphasized that website information must be accessible to people who use screen readers or speaking browsers. Another speaker noted the hiring of a grant-funded marketing person whose position specifically requires research involving outreach to people with disabilities. Eileen Bagnell spoke of a quarterly, statewide newsletter/calendar focused on arts access and personal visits to retirement communities and service organizations along with demonstrations of equipment. Fred Brack told of a public art project that is accessible, i.e., tactile and has sound elements, etc. He also spoke of distribution lists, newsletters, a website, personal visits, and the organization of a support group of people who are blind. Frank Hernandez told of working with the state talking book library to publicize AD events.
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