Currently it is available at 6 different on-Broadway shows, including The Lion King and Wicked. Thanks to the theatre’s cooperation, D-Scriptive is available for free to anyone who needs it while in the theatre. Only last year, the service was used 2,217 times in one theatre alone.
Creating the device was a challenge, mainly because every Broadway show is slightly different, since it is a live performance. So, playing a single audio track for every performance of the show wouldn’t work - before long, the audio would lag behind the action on stage, or vice-versa.
To solve this problem, Sound Associatives recorded multiple audio files for every show - nearly 600 for The Lion King. The theatre’s stage manager selects which file will be played each night, based on the actors in the show, the number of people present in the theatre, and a number of other variables. Also, to fine-tune the timing, a theatre employee is in touch with the D-Scriptive computer throughout the show, lining up timing and adding descriptions when needed.
According to a few sight-impaired viewers, they still feel as if they do miss much of the experience. “I sometimes feel like asking for half of my money back, because I miss a lot,” said Vicky Winslow, a blind New-Yorker who has a passion for theatre. However, it does improve the show when compared to how it was in the past. “The details that they gave were things that no one else — not even people who know me and describe things to me — would think to tell me,” Ms. Winslow admitted. All in all, D-Scriptive is a service that has made attending plays more enjoyable for everyone.
Information gathered from the NY Times article Seeing the Show With Their Ears, by Anand Giridharadas