VocalEye is the first dedicated live description service for the blind in Canada. Originally launched in Vancouver by Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture in 2009, the program became a separate non-profit society in 2012. Since its inception, VocalEye has described over 300 live events including theatre performances, dance, opera, parades, fireworks and public art tours for people who are blind and partially sighted. VocalEye has also trained description teams in theatres and art galleries across Canada. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VocalEye adapted its programming to include online accessible arts events via Zoom, attracting attendees from across the lower mainland and beyond.
VocalEye’s mission is to provide greater access to theatre, arts and cultural events for people of all ages who are blind and partially sighted.
Programs and Services
VocalEye centres the blind community in everything we do by including members of the community in all programming decisions and prioritizing their experience of the arts.
VocalEye partners with local theatre companies and other arts organizations to make their productions and events more accessible to these audience members through access services tailored to their events.
We train Theatre Buddy volunteers to assist patrons with tickets, equipment, seating and navigating to the venue from public transit.
We lower financial barriers to participation through our Ticket Access rebate program, workshop subsidies and free programming.
We encourage community engagement around the arts by hosting social gatherings before or after described performances, in person (Notable Socials) and online (Virtual Lobby).
We promote artistic engagement with members of the blind community through post-show Touch Tours at the theatre and guest artist talks over Zoom.
We enhance community access and awareness by offering free Sighted Guide workshops to volunteers and anyone interested in learning how to effectively assist people who are blind and partially sighted.
We support professional development in the audio description field by leading monthly Describer Café panels, community workshops and describer trainings.
We broaden the potential of audio description by engaging in projects that demand innovative approaches to audio description in order to make the work accessible.
Mary Phillips Award for Behind-the-Scenes Achievement, from the Jessie Richardson Award Society, 2019
Achievement Award in Audio Description (International), from the American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project, 2014
Founder + Executive Director: Steph Kirkland (she/her)
Associate Director + Event Host: Amy Amantea (she/her)
Event Manager + Volunteer Coordinator: Donna Soares (she/her)
Marketing + Communications Coordinator: Lindsey Adams (she/her)
Tech Support + Event Photographer: Rick Lin (he/him)
Event Support: Gail Ritter (she/her)
Eileen Barrett (she/her)
Jill Sharpe (she/her)
Stacie Steadman (she/her)
Anika Vervecken (she/her)
Cas Wanden (they/them)
Kristy Kassie, Chair (she/her)
Susan Vallance, Vice-chair (she/her)
Lynn Zhou, Treasurer (she/her)
Linda Weber, Secretary (she/her)
Karim Damani, Director at Large (he/him)
Shawn Kirkpatrick, Director at Large (he/him)