University research helps to develop accessible and immersive audio for popular BBC drama

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Accessible and immersive audio showcased on Saturday night’s episode of the popular BBC show Casualty.

This unique episode, released Saturday (11th July), 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.

Dr. Lauren Ward, former Salford University PhD student who was involved in 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 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. 

Watch the episode.

The BBC’s R&D Team has been working hard to make it easier for people with hearing impairments to enjoy their favourite shows.  This new technology follows on from the success of the Casualty Accessible and Enhanced (A&E) audio project last year, also developed in partnership with the university, which was viewed by over 6000 people. Viewers of the show said that the technology made the programme `easier to understand’ and `more enjoyable’.

To find about more about accessible and immersive audio visit BBC’s R&D blog.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk