School of Science, Engineering & Environment 25.09.21

GRADUATION 2020: Salford graduate works with the BBC to develop enhanced audio for popular TV show

A PhD Audio and Engineering graduate from the university has been working with the BBC’s R&D team to create accessible and immersive audio for the Saturday night drama Casualty.

Dr. Lauren Ward, PhD graduate from the University who worked on the project, said: “Broadcast accessibility is my passion and I have loved working on this project as it brings accessibility to the forefront; both in the story it tells and the technology it uses. The story draws on lived experiences of hearing loss of the writers, director and members of the Casualty cast. The episode also uses the audio to explore how an individuals’ hearing ability changes, day to day, moment to moment, based on how we feel or what life throws at us.”

The unique episode allows viewers to get inside the head of the character ‘Jade’ who has hearing loss. The soundscape for this episode was developed in collaboration with BBC R&D, acoustic researchers at The University of Salford, colleagues from the University of Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness & Queen Mary University of London.

The personalisable version of the show can be accessed via the Casualty website, which will allow viewers to adjust the audio mix to their hearing needs and preferences. It features approximately a third of the episode from Jade’s perspective, immersing listeners in the unique way she perceives the world.

Last year Lauren worked with BBC R&D developing an advance called ‘Accessible & Enhanced’ (A&E) audio for the show Casualty with this new project being an evolvement. A&E audio allows viewers to control the different sound elements in content making it easier for them to enjoy the drama and follow the dialogue. The programme was watched by over 6000 people with viewers of the show saying that the technology made the programme `easier to understand’ and `more enjoyable’