Sennheiser’s MobileConnect Provides Inclusive Technology for Hamburg Theatres
Audio specialist Sennheiser in cooperation with Hamburg Department of Culture is providing its new MobileConnect streaming solution for use in two theatres in the city. This solution enables blind and visually impaired people to enjoy barrier-free participation in cultural events. In the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg the audience was able to experience a premiere of a very special kind last December: For the first time, they were able to use their own smartphones to hear an audio description of the play “John Gabriel Borkman” by Henrik Ibsen, narrated by the German actress Nina Petri.
Around 3,000 blind people and around 40,000 people with a visual impairment live in Hamburg, and their disability means they can enjoy cultural events only to a limited extent. Following a decision by Hamburg Parliament in 2013, the city has now addressed this issue and would like to offer visually impaired people a better entertainment experience in theatres by providing an audio description of what is happening on stage.
With its MobileConnect system, Sennheiser is supporting the cultural department’s plans as a sponsor and has equipped both the Altonaer Theater and the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg with the new streaming solution. As a result, the audiences in both theatres can now listen to audio descriptions in real time on their smartphones. All they need to do is install the free MobileConnect app. “MobileConnect makes receiving audio descriptions child’s play. Listeners can simply use their own smartphone and are no longer reliant on renting a receiver. That makes life much more convenient for people with a visual impairment who want to enjoy a cultural event,” said Jörn Erkau, Managing Director of Sennheiser Streaming Technologies.
“The Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg and the Altonaer Theater are making a major contribution towards helping blind and visually impaired people to take part in cultural life. Due to the support from Sennheiser and MobileConnect, a total of five performances could be offered with audio description during the winter season,” said Culture Senator Prof. Barbara Kisseler. Karin Beier, Artistic Director of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg is delighted with the new service: “It is the aim of every theatre to reach as many people as possible, and audio description takes us one step closer.” The audio describer at the theatre is the German actress Nina Petri.
With its MobileConnect system, Sennheiser is supporting Hamburg Department of Culture’s initiative to enable all people to experience culture: “With MobileConnect, we are proud to be able to offer a technical solution that allows the desire for an inclusive enjoyment of culture to be fulfilled so easily,” said Erkau.
In addition to MobileConnect, Sennheiser has also launched a streaming solution for cinemas. CinemaConnect makes it possible for cinemas to offer audio description, assistive listening and the transmission of audio content. The Abaton cinema in Hamburg has already been using CinemaConnect since May 2014.