The Carrollwood Cultural Center will increase accessibility for blind and low-vision patrons by offering audio description for all future Center-produced theatrical performances starting with the musical First Date on September 16-25.
The Center recently purchased a new assistive listening system using funds from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay Competitive Grant. The Center also received grant funding through the AARP Community Challenge to train personnel to provide live audio description services.
Audio description is a live narration of the visual elements of a performance, such as lights, costumes, actions, textures, and scenery. Additionally, the new system will enable patrons who are hard of hearing to tune into a high-quality audio stream through the Center’s wireless network for all events held in the main theatre. The patron can then access the frequency through an application on their cell phone.
The new assistive listening system is part of a larger programming initiative the Center has planned for Blind Awareness Month in October. Events will include Blind Visionaries, a live concert featuring original Daniel Kelly compositions inspired by light photography created by the blind and visually impaired members of The Seeing with Photography Collective. Blind Visionaries will also host a light painting workshop on October 8 at 3 p.m., with the concert starting at 8 p.m. Blind Visionaries is funded through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
Other planned activities include a touch-sensitive gallery exhibition titled Beyond Sight from September 28 through October 29 and a free lecture called The Art of [Braille] with Matt Weihmueller on October 6 at 7 p.m. The AARP Community Challenge grant is funding the exhibition and lecture.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Florida has the second-largest blind and low vision population in the U.S., representing 2.5% of Florida’s total population, or 537,500 Floridians. However, only seven theatrical companies in Florida offer audio-described performances. Furthermore, only one of those facilities is in the Tampa Bay area.
The Carrollwood Cultural Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a mission of creating culture through community and community through culture.