Audio Describing the Video Tours of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison: Key Considerations, Challenges and Opportunities

Sarah McDonagh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The video tours of the Maze and Long Kesh prison serve as powerful visible reminders of Northern Ireland’s divided past. And yet, these video tours are not accessible to blind and partially sighted people in their current form. Taking this as its starting point, this chapter explores some of the challenges of creating the audio descriptions of the video tours of the Maze and Long Kesh prison for blind and partially sighted audiences in Northern Ireland. As an access service, audio description offers an interpretation and verbal representation of the essential visual information as it appears onscreen. While audio description is often considered a specialist or niche service, its application to the video tours of the Maze and Long Kesh prison provides us with the opportunity to re-examine the prison landscape and our relationship to it through the representational economy that the medium demands.
Based on research conducted with blind and partially sighted audiences across Northern Ireland, this chapter mediates on and analyses the inherent constraints of audio description and the challenges this poses to evoking a sense of place in the video tours. By doing so, this chapter highlights the different and often competing ways of understanding the prison’s significance, from the perspective both of the words we use to describe it and the parts of the buildings that we choose to focus on in the audio descriptions. Understanding the connections between the prison buildings and the memories they instantiate is key to interpreting its divided past. Through analysis of the video tours, together with testimonies from Prisons Memory Archive participants, alternative ways of conceptualising the prison space are considered and explored. Finally, this chapter concludes by arguing for a re-evaluation of the principle of inclusivity in the Prisons Memory Archive to take on board not just the views of people with competing political ideologies but also those with diverse access needs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Prisons Memory Archive: a Case Study in Filmed Memory of Conflict
PublisherVernon Press
Publication statusAccepted - 01 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Audio description
  • accessibility
  • Maze Long Kesh Prison
  • Prisons Memory Archive
  • Contested heritage
  • Northern Ireland
  • the Troubles

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