Painting a picture with words at The Lion King

Currently playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre, The Lion King has theatregoers mesmerised – the spectacular costumes, set design and props used to tell the story are a feast for the eyes, that has delighted more than 75 million people worldwide.

Later this month, students from Rutherglen High School will be traveling to see this spectacular performance. Micaela Schmidt is one of these students and like her classmates; she is very much looking forward to it. Micaela has an eye condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis and has been blind since birth. When she attends The Lion King she will require an audio description to help her follow the story.

“I had the pleasure of seeing both Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady audio described in Melbourne a few years ago” said Miceala.

Vision Australia offers audio description in live theatre shows. The service gives people who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to see the latest theatre shows with live description of movements, gestures, props, settings, costumes and scenery. Highly trained Vision Australia volunteer describers see the theatre production a number of times prior to the sessions they describe.

As she enters the theatre Micaela will collect a receiver and a single ear piece which will allow her to sit in any area of the theatre. The describers, working in pairs transmit from a sound proof booth during the show, describing the on stage action live.

When Rutherglen High School booked tickets to The Lion King for their students they were not aware that the audio description service was available. As it happens the session they booked was not a scheduled audio described session, of which there are two: 4 & 6 June 2015.

Approximately three dozen people will utilise this free service on these dates and the Vision Australia Audio Description team are delighted to be in a position to extend this opportunity to meet the needs of Micaela.

Just like anyone else people who are blind or have low vision like to go to the theatre, to the art gallery, to see movies and watch TV shows. These are things that need not be exclusively for the sighted community. Audio Description essentially opens the arts world to people who are blind or have low vision.

It is said that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words.’ If you’re a person who is blind or has low vision and you can’t see ‘the picture’ then you’re going to need the words. For more information about Vision Australia’s Audio Description Service, visit: for details.

The Lion King is currently playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre, before transferring to Perth’s Crown Theatre in November 2015. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Lion King – photo by Joan Marcus © Disney