Audio description to bring Melbourne Fashion Festival to life for people who are blind or have low vision

05 December 2019

Australia’s largest fashion event is set to become more accessible than ever before for people who are blind or have low vision.

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) has this week announced that it will partner with Vision Australia for to provide audio description at VAMFF 2020 to better include audience members who are blind or have low vision.

The initiative will be a pilot offering at VAMFF 2020 that will include audio description for two runway shows and behind the scenes tactile tours to complement them.

Vildana Praljak, Vision Australia Service Designer, said VAMFF’s decision to include audio description and tactile tours is a great example of how events can be more inclusive for people who are blind or have low vision.

“Whether it’s fashion and design or anything else, people who are blind or have low vision often have the same interests as their sighted peers, but often they experience those things in different ways,” Vildana said.

“VAMFF 2020 will be a great example of that. There is no doubt that people who are blind or have low vision would love to attend an event like this and the audio description and tactile tours mean they’ll be able to do so alongside everyone else.”

Seven fashion models stand together on a runway in a darkened room in front of a large crowd
Caption: Audio description will help people who are blind or have low vision enjoy the 2020 Melbourne Fashion Festival. Image: Lucas Dawson Photography.

Audio description offers people who are blind or have low vision an understanding of what is happening visually within a production, such as a fashion show. It is an additional narration to scripted dialogue or other commentary and succinctly paints an image of visual elements such as transitions, movements, costumes and scenery.

Vision Australia’s trained audio describers will provide the service at VAMFF.

Tactile tours give people who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to explore and become familiar with things such as stage layout, costumes and other physical elements of a production.

VAMFF organisers said the festival is looking forward to offering the audio description and tactile tours as part of wider commitment to accessibility and inclusion:

“Both Vision Australia and the Festival are passionate about making sure runways are accessible to all fashion enthusiasts to attend, and the tours will provide guests with an introduction to the designers’ collections backstage prior to appearing on the runway, while a professional audio description of the runway action will make the visual verbal.

“This initiative augments the Festival’s accessibility features including Auslan interpretation available at Ideas Program events, and wheelchair accessibility at all hub venues.”

Audio description tickets for VAMFF 2020 are available exclusively to Vision Australia clients and are strictly limited. To purchase or find out more, call 03 9654 5599 or book direct via vamff.com.au.