Melissa Duijvestijn (30) from Scheveningen is visually impaired. She copes well with that, but going to a musical is quite difficult because with a distance from the stage you don’t get the expression at all. How do you fix that?
Melissa loves musicals. She even joins a musical club with her father. And as a real Scheveningen she likes to go to the musicals in the Circustheater such as Aladdin. “But in row one, otherwise I won’t get it,” she says. But last week Melissa went in a row 27 thanks to an app, blind and partially sighted people can now enjoy the musical, even if they are far from the stage.
“I had a brain haemorrhage around birth,” explains Melissa. “My optic nerves got damaged and so I became visually impaired. I still see about 18%. Distance and depth are especially difficult. I can see everything but to me it all seems further away. For example, I see faces less well.”
That’s quite difficult when Melissa is a big fan of musicals, because who sings when you see different people on stage from the hall? Something has now been found. Melissa was one of the first to try the Earcatch app. An app that tells people with disabilities and the visually impaired during a performance what happens on stage.
“I had been to Aladdin before. My parents had given me and my friend, who is also visually impaired, tickets for the front row. We had to, otherwise we wouldn’t see anything,” says Melissa. “We were now in a row 07 but got everything. Because we were able to hear the audio description via the smartphone with earphones in.”
According to Melissa, it is for the first time possible for blind and partially sighted people to experience more of a performance. “Everything is described. This is especially useful for things that go very quickly, such as a chase scene.”
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“It also enhances the atmosphere. ‘Suddenly Jasmine appears in a blue veil and looks around in amazement’, descriptions like that help to form a better picture of a performance. If I could choose the app in row one? It depends. If you sit in the front you can see the facial expressions better, but with the app you get the overview. I think it differs in how bad your vision is.”
The app can be used in Scheveningen for the Aladdin performance and can be downloaded free of charge.