Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


The IDEA Project: Towards Inclusive Co-Created Audio Description

25 May 2022, 1:00 pm–2:30 pm

woman using audio guide in gallery, photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash

This second talk of the 'Disability and the Cultural Sector' seminar series will be given by Prof. Hannah Thompson, who will explore what happens when audio description moves from access provision to artistic intervention and asks who has the right to describe or be described.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Dr Rafie Cecilia

Join the event via Zoom here

Using the concept of ‘blindness gain’, this presentation discusses the benefits and disadvantages of inclusive, co-created description with reference to several examples from the IDEA Project. Thompson explores what happens when audio description moves from access provision to artistic intervention and asks who has the right to describe or be described. She will consider the potential of novel techniques such as overt positionality, multiple descriptions and the audio describer’s ‘preface’ before thinking about what is at stake when audio description is repositioned as an essential part of the artistic experience for both blind and non-blind beholders.

This seminar will take place on Zoom (https://ucl.zoom.us/j/92486547634), and there is no need to register in advance. Live Captioning for the event will be provided by Stagetext.  

The UCL Institute of Advanced Studies is pleased to host this series of informal short seminars to showcase research around disability and the cultural sector.

The programme began in May 2022 with lunchtime talks of 45 minutes. This series aims to connect researchers and provide a safe space to discuss ideas and progress. Speakers include eminent scholars from UCL and other research institutions, including Dr Simon Hayhoe (University of Bath), Prof. Hannah Thompson (RHUL), Prof. Tim Adlan (UCL), Dr Jos Boys (UCL), and Prof Diane Carr (UCL).

Octagon Small Grants Fund Logo
The seminar series is sponsored by the IAS Octagon Small Grants Fund and is organised by Dr Rafie Cecilia (UCL Institute of Archaeology and Centre for Critical Heritage Studies) together with the Global Disability Innovation Hub.
Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash

About the Speaker

Hannah Thompson

Professor of French and Critical Disability Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London

photo of Prof Hannah Thompson
In 2021 she was an AHRC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fellow for the project “Inclusive Description for Equality and Access”. She has published widely on nineteenth-century French prose fiction, with reference to gender, sexuality and the non-normative body. Her third monograph, Reviewing Blindness in French Fiction (Palgrave, 2017), marked the beginning of a new research focus on the intersections between Critical Disability Studies and French Studies.

Hannah is currently working on creative audio description in museums, art galleries and theatres and the notion of “Blindness Gain”. She is the author of the popular blog Blind Spot (https://hannah-thompson.blogspot.co.uk/) that maps her experiences as a partially blind academic in a resolutely sighted world. Follow her on twitter @BlindSpotHannah. 

More about Hannah Thompson