Touch tours allow those with access requirements an opportunity to touch parts of the set, costumes or props involved in a show and can be useful for blind and visually impaired people, autistic people and those with learning difficulties.
Cast members, other members of the theatre company or stage managers can be present to guide audiences through the various visual elements of the production. This experience greatly contributes to a person’s understanding of the performance or can be beneficial to audience members as it allows them to gain familiarity with their surroundings.
Touch tours are mostly done in conjunction with audio description, but can also be done with relaxed performances. It is worth remembering that almost all Fringe venues have very tight schedules between shows, and touch tours may not always be possible.
Facilitating a touch tour
- You will need to have your set and props in place before the show to allow the tour to take place.
- You will need to have someone present to lead the tour and assist audience members. Cast members, other members of the theatre company or stage managers can be present to guide through the various visual elements of the production.
- If you have a trained audio describer present, they may be able to provide expertise on describing the visual elements of the show.
- An alternative to touch tours are tactile set interpretations. These are similar to touch tours but smaller in scale and rely predominantly on the use of set models. This will require a quiet spot at the venue.
Working with venues
- Touch tours can be conducted in any venue, provided they are done safely. Remember to make sure walkways are clear of obstructions and trip hazards.
- Clear communication with the venue is crucial, as time between shows can be tight at the Fringe. Make sure there is an appropriate length of time to carry this out.
- If conducting a tactile set interpretation, again you will need to communicate with the venue to make sure an appropriate space is available.
- Speak to your venue to confirm if venue staff will be available to assist with any audience access requirements. They may be able to assign extra staff for this purpose on the day.