Tech innovation for accessible arts and culture

The social school of thought or model of disability says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference.

By removing those barriers you overcome the disability. So, we can actually make everyday life as accessible as we want to for people with disabilities, and tech and innovation play a huge part in this.

Around one in five people in the UK have a disability or impairment, according to the office for national statistics, which is set to rise due to our ageing population, so it’s crucial that all areas of society use tech to cater for people with disabilities.

This includes making services, such as the creative arts, accessible for everyone including people with so called ‘hidden disabilities’ such as hearing loss, which aren’t immediately visible to others, but exist none the less.

The societal impact of theatre 

a stage with bold lightingTheatre has been a staple of society for many years now, it has many proven benefits of its patrons including enhanced imagination, increased self confidence and enrichment of social and societal knowledge. 

Theatre requires a diverse set of thinking and communications and relies quite heavily on technology. When we embrace diversity and accept the challenges of ourselves and others we can free up the barriers that may exist to the arts and allow inclusion to a much loved industry.

Innovative accessibility by the National Theatre

Arts and culture is an area that is making great strides in accessibility through developing innovative technology. For example, the National Theatre has introduced smart caption glasses, which offer a revolutionary new way for people with hearing loss to enjoy performances at the National Theatre.

Users can experience productions from any seat in any theatre. When wearing the glasses, users will see a transcript of the dialogue and descriptions of the sound from a performance displayed on the lenses of the clear glasses.

You can learn more about the glasses and making arts and culture accessible at Tech Share Pro 2018, where Jonathan Suffolk, Project Director at the National Theatre, will discuss this amazing new technological advancement.

TechShare Pro 2018, which is the UK's largest accessibility and inclusive design event, is organised by AbilityNet and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), sponsored by Barclays and Google. This year's theme is how we embed accessibility and inclusion in every digital project. audience members wearing the smart caption glasses

Accessible arts and culture on display

At TechShare Pro 2018 you’ll also be able to hear from some other front runners in theatre who have made huge steps in the direction of inclusive design in arts and culture.

These include Richard Matthews and Lizzy Leggat from the Graeae Theatre Company. They will discuss the fantastic use of embedding inclusivity from the ‘get go’ of Graeae Theatre, working with disabled actors, and the use of inclusive tech in every production.

And Phillipa Cross, from Talking Birds, will look at the process Talking Birds went through in designing their ‘difference engine’, and how from every challenge comes a creative opportunity.

For the second year running Tech Share Pro has sold out 2 weeks before the show! Don’t worry if you haven’t got a ticket, we’ll be sharing loads of great content and insights on the AbilityNet website and you can follow the whole day on Twitter using #TechSharePro.