Audio Description

Audio Description is available for all patrons to hear and experience dance through verbal description that paints a picture in the mind. Audio description uses Channel 2 on the infrared assistive listening devices at The Benedum Center for Performing Arts located at 237 7th Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222.

Why attend an audio described dance performance?

Some patrons come to hear the ballet music but have always wanted to know what's happening onstage. Others like the audio description to "fill in" what they might be seeing. While still others just listen to the pre-performance and intermission notes that go deep into describing production elements, such as costumes and scenery, and discuss key things to watch for during the performance. 

VocalEyes Ltd, a UK charity devoted to audio description and accessibility of all arts and cultural genres, has wonderful resources about audio description for dance. Listen to patrons' experience at Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty and their experience at Northern Ballet's Beauty and the Beast. Download a case study research paper called "Talking of Dance" by Bridget Crowley. Lastly, download an explanation of "Why go to a Dance Workshop?". Although PBT does not currently offer dance workshops, we would welcome patrons' requests for a program of this nature! Many thanks to VocalEyes for permission to link to their resources!

The following performances in the 2014-15 season will be audio described for patrons:

The Sleeping Beauty--Sunday, October 26 at 2:00 p.m.
The Nutcracker--Sunday, December 14 at 4:30 p.m. (sensory seminar begins at 3:00 pm)
Beauty and the Beast--Sunday, February 8 at 2:00 p.m.

Please register for audio description by emailing


Starting with the PBT Premieres production, PBT will be moving to an on-demand audio description service, which means you can attend the performance of your choosing to hear audio description! Sensory seminars (more information below) will also be by request. To request audio description, please call 412-454-9107. We kindly request two-weeks notice in order for the describer to have adequate time to prepare. 

All performances will take place at the Benedum Center.

A sensory seminar will be held prior to each audio described performanceas as requested by patrons in the South Lounge of the Benedum Center (second floor, directly to the left after you exit the elevator). The sensory seminar will use tactile, auditory, and other sensory tools to explore the content of the upcoming performance, including costumes, scenic design, and story, as well as general ballet terminology.

Patron feeling tactile map of ground plan during Sensory Seminar.

Large print and braille programs will be available at the theatre. Attendees may also listen to audio recordings of select program notes on the audio recording page of PBT's website.

Headsets for the audio described performance can be obtained at the Guest Services Center located directly next to the elevator in the Benedum Center lower lobby. Please see an usher when you arrive for more assistance in locating the Guest Services Center. Headsets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis at the theatre, but can be reserved by calling Alyssa Herzog Melby, Director of Education and Community Engagement, at 412-454-9105 or by emailing Patrons will be asked for an ID in order to borrow a headset. Patrons will be instructed on how to use the headset devices when they obtain a headset.