In Quebec, there are over 100,000 individuals living with total or partial blindness (mild to severe visual impairment), with the vast majority living below the poverty line. (Source : Fondation des Aveugles du Québec)

Since 2021, Danse-Cité has been developing a dance audio description program, a previously nonexistent practice in Montreal, to offer visually impaired and semi-vision-impaired French-speaking audiences adapted access to choreographic performances.

‘The challenges are enormous: breaking down isolation and giving as many people as possible access to culture.’ Maud Mazo-Rothenbühler, development director

Audiodescription BJM Septembre 2023 © David Wong

Audiodescription involves orally and live describing the visual and sensory elements of a choreographic work, so that it can be transmitted, shared and experienced. It requires the knowledge and development of specific tools.

The live descriptions are provided via a special application downloaded onto a smartphone, enabling blind and partially-sighted spectators with headphones to hear the live narration while being included in the audience in the same way as all other spectators.

Danse-Cité is the first French-language structure and the first team to have set up from scratch a made-to-measure turnkey service, not only for blind and partially sighted people, but also for venues and artists.

Since 2021 :

  • blind and partially-sighted spectators;

  • creating and retaining an initial active pool of blind and partially-sighted spectators;

  • creation of the first training programm for audio describers specializing in the performing arts;

  • becoming a reference point for Quebec's cultural ecosystem.

Audio excerpt : Audio description L'homme rare by Nadia Beugré by Enora Rivière

The full social inclusion of blind and partially sighted people in cultural activities is a pressing need in our society. The sustainable implementation of the practice improves accessibility to the arts for the community, broadens and strengthens the cultural accessibility chain under construction and enriches inclusive practices.