I participated in Europe Beyond Access Laboratory “Highlighting the grey zones. Research on the dramaturgy of movement transitions” which was part of the Oriente Occidente Dance Festival in Rovereto Italy during the summer of 2021. I participated thanks to the invitation of the Holland Dance Festival and I had the opportunity to meet artists with and without disabilities from all over Europe who do a great job. In the laboratory, we found a common interest and it was to ask ourselves about accessibility for the public. We are interested in audio description, and these were some of the most outstanding reflections:
+ The audio description does not seek to replace the view. This would be an ableist position. The goal should not be to make visually impaired people see, as it does not replace vision.
+ If the audio description is made by the dancers themselves, an audio self-description, you have to be careful with what you share. Sharing subjective personal experiences can be interesting but we must remember the importance of giving images and textures. We must also remember the importance of building a dramaturgy that makes sense.
+ If the movement itself generates sounds, such as footsteps, is it necessary to make an audio description of this?
+ Is the audio description a translation? An interpretation? What is its relationship with movement and with language?
+ It is important to ask visually impaired people what they connect with when they go to a dance performance (proximity, listening to movement, human voice, etc.) These are the key points to keep in mind and develop in an accessible performance.
+ Synchrony between what is described and what happens is very important. Many times many words are needed to describe a couple of movements, so the audio description gets out of phase, starts earlier, or ends later. This is very confusing.
+ What is the minimum number of words needed? This can be an interesting target for an audio description. Do not saturate or overcharge.
+ Tactile language. sensory images. Instead of visualization, sensorization.
+ “I don't need to know everything, but don't leave me behind,” says a visually impaired person as an audience.