Throughout 2017, Boho Interactive undertook a creative development of an Accessible Performance Platform (APP) which was delivered as an iOS application providing a suite of accessibility options for audience members with a disability, as well as supporting the interactive experience of the performance for all participants.
Research began with investigations into iOS application architecture and built in accessibility features, as well as investigating other applications which are available to assist people with a disability. A specific suite of accessibility features was created within the APP from scratch.
Accessibility features which were identified for incorporation into the final project were primarily focused towards people with a visual or hearing impairment and were:
Text to speech
These are available in all scenes, including both content and interactivity instructions.
Boho developed the APP architecture, including multi-peer communication with a variable number of users, user preference handling and results tracking. We challenged ourselves to identify scenes from earlier Boho works which did not meet accessible standards, that could be used to test how usable these accessibility features were when paired with our previously developed narrative interactivity techniques.
The final APP consists of six scenes, plus initial preferences screen and a summary of results.
The preferences screen allows users to select their accessibility options, with assistance from the presenter if necessary. After that point, audience members require no further assistance on a one-on-one basis.
Scene one is four mini games which can be sent by the presenter to each individual audience member, based on part of the Boho work 'Best Festival Ever'. A selected audience member has five seconds to complete a simple interaction which is prompted by the iPad. Prompts are delivered via text to speech for audience members who are blind or who have low vision.
Scene two is an extension of video voting, featured in 'Word Play'. The audience vote which location the scene takes place in. The APP tallies the votes of all users and the most popular scene is selected. Votes are made by button, or by tilting the iPad.
Scene three is the game of chicken from 'A Prisoners' Dilemma'. After an introduction monologue, individual users are offered the option of drawing a stone or refusing. The game ends when a black stone is drawn with a 1 in 20 chance, or if the stone is refused.
Scene four is drawn from 'True Logic of the Future' and consists of small sections of text which outline an alternative history of Australia. The presenter selects an audience member to read the text segment aloud to the other audience members.
Scene five allows the audience to read along with the script as it is performed by the performer, the script for this section was drawn from 'CSIRO Lecture Performance'. The scene also provides the option for the performer to type out text to the audience on the fly in addition to the scripted material.
Scene six is a secret voting game from 'Best Festival Ever'. The game requires that the audience members each vote yes or no, in secret. To be successful as a group, only a certain percentage of the audience may vote yes. The audience attempt to get the highest score possible without going over the limit.
The physical deployment of the APP was six iPads each mounted on a dual ball joint mount which allows for 360-degree rotation and a wide ranging tilt, mounted to boards which were cut specifically to fit on a standard conference room table. The performers controller can be run from a laptop or if available from one of the iPads. The iPads run the APP completely wirelessly, with Bluetooth as an option, and do not require a network connection to communicate with one another. This setup is lightweight and versatile and is ideal for deployment in boardrooms, schools and conferences. The APP is easy to adapt for new performance content, can be incorporated into a broad range of performance aesthetics, and will be an attractive component of future commissions and partnerships.
Future applications of the APP are exciting. It is readily expandable to online and remote audiences, in any number of locations, interacting together with a performance in real time through the APP.