Launch of world-first technology to enable blind and vision impaired Australians to enjoy live theatre

Date posted: 
15 July 2013

A cutting-edge new app will enable people who are blind or vision impaired to enjoy live theatre by providing high-quality audio descriptions on their mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth launched the GoTheatrical! mobile app, developed by award-winning Australian company The Captioning Studio, at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Ms Rishworth congratulated The Captioning Studio for developing this new technology that now gives people who are blind or vision impaired the same choices as other theatre-goers.

"People with disability have the right to the same opportunities as other Australians," Ms Rishworth said.

"This new app will allow users to access the audio description delivered during gaps in the dialogue, and visualise the action taking place from detailed descriptions of costumes, body language, set design and scene locations.

"This technology replaces the old portable FM systems, which could be frustrating for theatre-goers as users often experienced interference from radio stations and technical failures such as batteries dying.

"By using WiFi and Voice Over IP, this technology allows a much higher quality audio signal with a greater degree of reliability, and I'm pleased many more Australians will now be able to enjoy a wonderful night out at the theatre."

Ms Rishworth said the Rudd Government is committed to ensuring all Australians can participate fully in the community.

"The Government is working hard to ensure people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians," Ms Rishworth said.

"Catching a movie with friends and family is something that many of us don't think twice about but the fact is there are many Australians who haven't been able to enjoy this popular pastime. That's why the Federal Government committed $500,000 to improve access to cinemas for people who are deaf, blind, or visually or hearing impaired, which will see captions and audio description available in 242 screens by the end of 2014.

"Through our National Disability Strategy, which includes $11 million in community initiatives, we are delivering a range of accessibility measures to make it easier for people with disability, their carers and families to participate in community life, including going to the cinema, attending conferences, using public libraries and accessing public buildings."