Dr Hannah Thompson | Reader in French | School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures
“My why… is to radically change the lives of disabled people.”
As a disabled person, I live in a society that still doesn’t understand or appreciate disability, and this has been the driving force for my recent research which explores how creative audio descriptions can make films and galleries more accessible for blind and partially blind people.
Having the Picture Gallery on campus has allowed me to experiment with different presentation techniques, and it’s been great to work with curators who are keen and open to new ways of working.
Usually audio descriptions involve a headset through which you’re fed information, but this means you’re isolated from the rest of the visitors and are experiencing things separately. When we played the audio description out loud, however, a more immersive experience was created for everyone, with sighted people also reporting that they were able to appreciate the pictures in a new way.
This research also links nicely to my work on language, as audio description can be thought of as a form of translation. It was great working with my students to audio-describe the pictures, as it challenged them to look at the images in a different way, highlighting that words have values attached which can shape how we see and think about the world.
My work on audio description also has the potential to help in teaching. It has the power to help students with dyslexia or those who are not visual learners, and this is why I do what I do. I want to challenge existing, outdated stereotypes and help change how people think about blindness and disability in general.
Everybody will encounter disability at some point in their life, and I want to live in a more tolerant society where everyone has access to the same engaging experiences.