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Watching the sky light up with fireworks was the highlight for many packed around Sydney Harbour last night to ring in the new year — but what if you were blind?

Sydney was one of the first time zones in the world to welcome 2018, with millions of people in Australia and around the world watching the city's fireworks show on television.

For those like Sydney Harbour resident Coral Arnold, who has been blind since she was three, it may be hard to understand what all the fuss is about.

But the ABC broadcast a live audio description of the fireworks, giving vision-impaired people a chance to join in the fun.

"It just gives me another dimension. I do see some colour but these days it's so crowded on New Year's Eve you don't go out," Ms Arnold said.

"And when I turn the radio on and listen to the description of the fireworks and hear the fireworks I kind of feel I'm participating along with everyone else."

Providing an audio description of fireworks is something of an art. Here's an example from last night:

"They're in gold colours, there are little blue flashes in the tips as they explode.

"Some wonderful tall gold roman candles fired up from the water and some rockets coming up through their midst are going to be brilliant red and green."

"And they're getting higher and taller, spreading out further in that drifting smoke."

Audio description a kind of translation

Fran Mathey has been working as an audio describer for 10 years. But she says detailing explosions in the sky last night presented its own unusual challenges.

"The main challenge is the same as there are varying levels of vision because some have been blind since birth, some have lost their vision, some have some vision," Ms Mathey said.

"But in order to say anything at all, I do have to use words that refer to things like colour and shape, and actually use metaphors for a quick reference point of comparison.

"Things like flowers for fireworks, for example, are a particularly useful one. Or palm trees is one that comes up often."

Ms Mathey calls audio description a type of translation, and has been overwhelmed by the response from the vision-impaired community.

"It just means being able to share what all their sighted friends and family have taken for granted for so long," she said.

"So particularly where television or film is concerned, it means being able to sit down with their friends and loved ones and have as close an experience to what the others are experiencing as they can.

"[It also means] not having to ask questions all the time, be on the same page, be able to fully engage with something."

Original Article

The post How blind people enjoyed the New Year's Eve fireworks last night appeared first on News Wire Now.

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