Volunteers needed for Audio Description service!

The Courtyard are looking for volunteers to join The Courtyard Audio Description Association

Are you looking for a volunteering opportunity? If you want to give back to your community, we’re looking for new members of the Courtyard Audio Description Association (CADA) to deliver Audio Description for visually impaired audience members. Audio Description consists of a narrator talking through the performance, describing what is happening on the stage or screen during the natural pauses in the dialogue through a discreet headset.

The objective of Audio Description is to enable visually impaired people to enjoy various forms of entertainment to the same degree as sighted audiences.

CADA have been a team of dedicated volunteers, providing this service for live shows, for the past 20 years. It’s an essential service to give visually impaired customers as much opportunity to attend the theatre as possible.

What’s involved?

CADA meet around three times a year to discuss upcoming shows and other matters arising.

They tend to Audio Describe around 3-5 shows a year and CADA decide amongst themselves which two members of the team will deliver each one. One describer is responsible for Act 1, the other Act 2.

When delivering the Audio Description for a show, there are a number of things involved, including:

  • Watching the dress rehearsal of the show. This will get recorded so it can be watched as many times as needed. Occasionally, if it’s a touring show, a recording will be available earlier.
  • Making description notes about the action to fit in to the natural pauses in the script/show.
  • Writing introductory notes which are read out before the performance commences, together with (shorter) ‘interval’ notes before the beginning of subsequent acts. This initial introduction provides details of the stage production team (taken from the programme), the key protagonists, scenery and the costumes.
  • Doing a practice run of the Audio Description to iron out any issues.
  • Attending the Audio Described performance, which is usually 3-5 days after the dress rehearsal and delivering the notes, live, throughout the performance.

Preparing Audio Description is relatively time consuming and usually with a quick turnaround time (between the dress rehearsal and live performance). Although, each CADA member would likely only do one or two performances a year.

If you are successful in joining CADA, full training will be provided and there will be opportunity to work with an experienced describer for delivery of the first show.

Personal qualities needed:

  • Speak clearly and confidently into a microphone
  • Respond quickly to changes that occur before your eyes
  • Not panic if mistakes are made
  • Show spontaneity, and be able to ‘ad lib’ where necessary

If you’d like to get involved, but feel like your talents may lend themselves more to only writing, or just delivering – we’re open to any contribution you can give!

If you would like to find out more about joining CADA, please contact nickie.bates@courtyard.org.uk