Artlink Access Symbols

Symbols for accessible performances: Audio described, captioned and BSL interpreted events, along with events which use sound, music and spoken word; plus those that are mainly visual.

The symbols have been designed to go beyond the usual categories for accessible performances, the idea is to provide more information about the event so people can decide if it is something for them.

Artlink’s symbols are free for anyone to use, please first read the following information.

How to use

These symbols and colours have been designed to be clear and accessible, please do not alter them in any way.

Creative Commons Licence
Artlink Access Symbols by Artlink Edinburgh & Lothians is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

To download the complete set of access symbols, click on this link. A ‘.zip’ archive will start downloading to your computer. The archive contains both web and print versions of each access symbol.

If you require further information or help, please contact Susan Humble,

Symbols Guide

Touch Tour
A touch tour takes place before a performance, usually one with audio description. It is an opportunity to go onto the stage, touch the set, props and costumes. In a gallery or museum a touch tour offers opportunities to handle the artworks, accompanied by audio description.

Audio Description
Audio description uses language to convey the visual world. This service describes performance, film and artworks for people with sight loss. In theatre, the description is usually delivered live over a head set, interspersed with the actors’ dialogue. In a gallery or informal setting description can be given face to face and include discussion about the work. Audio description requires preparation and practise.

Spoken Word
Performances in this category have little or no visual gestures, props or set. They may therefore be of interest to people with sight loss.

Music / Sound / Aural
Performances in this category are primarily aural experiences, with little or no visual gestures, props or set. They may therefore be of interest to people with sight loss.

Hearing Enhancement
Loop systems amplify the speaker and reduce background noise. There are many different types of equipment; some require the user to collect a headset others do not. Loop systems may help people with hearing loss enjoy an event. Test your system regularly to ensure it is working. Remember to switch on/charge and inform staff about how to use it. Written instructions may help both your staff and audience.

Captioned performances display a prepared script onto a screen providing access for Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people. A captioner cues the text so it is delivered at the same time as actors are speaking. In a captioned performance ALL spoken dialogue should appear as text. You should consider where the audience will sit to comfortably read the text and watch the performance.

Speech to Text / Text Based
A Speech-to-Text reporter types words as they are spoken and they are then displayed on a screen. This is helpful for discursive and improvised events when a prepared script is not available. Events in this category could also include text based installations and performances.

No Spoken Word / Visual Only
Events in this category have no spoken word and are mainly visual experiences. This could include mime, physical theatre, dance. These may be of interest to Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people as well as people for whom English is not their first language.

British Sign Language
For audience members for whom British Sign Language is their first or preferred language. This category is for art created in sign language as well as events with BSL/English interpretation. BSL interpreters provide both linguistic and artistic interpretation, consider the experience of the interpreter and let the audience know who they are. When planning, consider lighting and positioning so your audience can comfortably see the signer and any other action/ important information.

Useful contacts
The Audio Description Association Scotland provides training, equipment and contacts for describers.

Captioning units can be hired from the Federation of Scottish Theatre, who also have a list of trained captioners.

SASLI provides training and a list of qualified BSL / English interpreters.

Other resources
The Accessible Icon Project transforms the old International Symbol of Access into an active, engaged image. For more information and free downloads visit




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