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Ballet for the visually impaired at Leeds Grand Theatre


This Saturday, visually impaired (VI) theatre-goers from across the region will attend an audio described performance of Swan Lake at the Leeds Grand Theatre, using new sensory equipment supplied by Yorkshire Bank.

The bank, sponsor of Leeds Grand Theatre, has donated over £5,000 of audio equipment to the theatre, enabling sensory impaired patrons to enjoy the theatre’s audio described performances. This includes 30 headsets for the visually impaired and ten neck loops for the hard of hearing.

In addition to attending the transcribed performances that run throughout the year, VI patrons are also invited to take part in touch tours, which offer the chance to become familiar with the set and the costumes. The Northern Ballet Theatre will also be running a ballet workshop where attendees will be taught a range of sequences and moves from Swan Lake.

Participants at Saturday’s Yorkshire Bank-sponsored performance will be assisted on the touch tour and at the workshop by bank employees whom have recently taken part in a sensory awareness course at the theatre, run by the Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People.

Helen Everett, Head of Sponsorship at Yorkshire Bank, said: “As part of the sponsorship of Leeds Grand Theatre, Yorkshire Bank has pledged to take the theatre experience to as wide an audience as possible. By investing in new audio equipment and by sponsoring individual theatre performances, touch tours and workshops, the bank has opened the doors to accessible performances for the sensory impaired.”

13-year-old Rhiannon Firth lost her sight at the age of 15 months when a pituitary tumour damaged her optic nerves. She will attend the performance of Swan Lake on Saturday with her mother and is particularly looking forward to the ballet workshop and wearing the headset.

Deborah Firth, Rhiannon’s mother, said: “Rhiannon is extremely excited about attending the ballet. Normally when we attend theatre, in order for Rhiannon to appreciate the performance, I would whisper to her about what is happening on stage. Of course this can be disruptive to other theatre goers, so to have an individual headset with a live transcriber is just fantastic. As the ballet is such a visual art form, I’m extremely intrigued as to how it will work.”

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