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Culture for all: barrier-free performances in S. Korea Updated: 2020-10-28 10:09:57 KST

How can the visually impaired enjoy the ballet?
Here is one way.

"Everyone takes off their jackets and throws them away. A man stands. People move around the chair, right, left, up and down. As people stretch the tips of their hands and feet, the energy of fifteen people sprawls."

It's an audio description, using words to make the show accessible for visually impaired audiences.
Dancers' Career Development Center is helping train and develop audio describers, which were previously non-existent in South Korea.

"Unlike operas or plays, ballet is all about movements with no spoken lines, which makes it a difficult genre for people with poor eyesight. The description of the ballet can also be helpful to those watching it for the first time as the describer gives an explanation throughout the show."

With nine years of experience in ballet, Lee Kyung-gu is one of the trainees.
She says dancers themselves are best suited for this work, as they understand the mechanisms of performances and the stage.

"It's not just depicting what's happening on stage but leaving out questions and interpretations. Describers must participate as a choreographer, a dancer, and a director."

"The movement to break down barriers actually goes on stage for the hearing impaired here in Daehakro, a mecca for South Korean theater."

This small play depicts the life of a young boy with spinal paralysis fighting for a fairer world.
And just like the message of the play, a sign language translator brings equality to the audience seats.
These changes are being made to bring more ways for disabled people to enjoy culture.
At the moment, watching television is the only culture that can be enjoyed for over 96 percent of people with such disabilities.

"Many families with a hearing-impaired member have little choice in the plays they can enjoy. This show 'Stronger than Superman' bridges them."

This movement aims to make sure barrier-free culture isn't just a one-day event for a particular group, but an ordinary part of everyday society.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.
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