The Failures of Audio Described Striptease: How visually impaired viewers are deprived opportunities for voyeurism

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Ofcom/ITC guidelines on audio description recommend the prioritisation of the actions of the protagonist. While this approach may be appropriate in many cases, it may also deprive partially-sighted viewers of an experience equivalent to that of sighted viewers, particularly during scenes that relate the experiences of onlookers or voyeurs. In descriptions of striptease, for example, actions and gestures are prioritised to such an extent that there is often very little description of the appearance of the body that is revealed. Descriptive Video Work’s audio description for the climactic striptease of The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997) describes only the actions of the male striptease troupe, and denies visually impaired viewers the erotic pleasure of hearing descriptions of any of the performers’ bodies. Indeed, there is no explicit indication that bare torsos have been revealed at all, leaving the audience to infer their appearance from the description of the removal of shirts. This aural experience offers sighted and visually impaired viewers two contrasting experiences of the scene: the sighted viewer is positioned as if part of the fictional on-screen audience, and invited to gaze at the bodies on display; the visually-impaired audience, however, misses the opportunity for voyeurism, and instead is directed to consider actions as an actor. This paper will explore how current Ofcom guidelines fail to deliver equivalent experiences for visually impaired viewers, and asks how this may be addressed by seeking to replicate the experience of sighted viewers, not the experience of protagonists on screen.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2016
EventMeCCSA 2016 - Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jan 20168 Jan 2016


ConferenceMeCCSA 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • audio description
  • visual impairment
  • film
  • striptease
  • ITC
  • Ofcom


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