New Zealand Opera Announces Braille Surtitles

By Francisco Salazar

New Zealand Opera has announced that it will provide braille surtitles for live performances for its blind and low-vision opera fans.

The company will be the first in the world and are being designed to enrich the experience of a live performance without the interference of audio descriptions fo the blind and low vision community.

According to The Guardian, New Zealand Opera’s general director, Brad Cohen developed the technology alongside his company

The surtitles will send user’s personal braille-reading machine at the same time as the sighted audience is reading the translations on screen.

In a statement Brad Cohen said, “For us this is a really important step in levelling the playing field.”

He added, “Blind and low-vision patrons have always been at a disadvantage – they haven’t had the same experiences as the rest of the room was having. For us this is a really important step in levelling the playing field, giving them the same experience and same text as the rest of the audience is seeing.”

Accordng to The Guardian the “users of the technology will access the text through a webpage on their phone, which then sends the words, line by line, to the braille reader.”

The technology was first implemented and tested in Aukland during a performance of “Le Comte Ory” and will be implemented permanently at teh New Zeland Opera.