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Radio fireworks for the visually impaired

Tuesday 20 Dec 2011
More than 300,000 Australians who are visually impaired can now enjoy the colour and excitement of the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks displays with the launch of the first audio commentary of the event.

SBS-Australia Michael Ebeid

Sydney, in collaboration with 2Day FM, has established a special Digital Radio Plus station, NYE2011, which will broadcast a commentary of the two NYE fireworks displays on 31 December.

The commentary will be narrated by NYE Fireworks Director Fortunato Foti and will include insights into the visual impact of the explosives as well as personal stories from a seventh-generation pyrotechnician.

Mayor Clover Moore said one in five people in NSW are living with visual impairments and the City is committed to producing events that are open and accessible to everyone.

“Sydney New Year’s Eve is the biggest event in Australia, attracting 1.5 million people to the Harbour Foreshore, while 2.6 million people across the country watch the fireworks on their televisions at home,” she said.

“The City is continually looking at ways to make this world-class event accessible to everyone in the community, which is why we have established the NYE2011 digital radio station and commentary.

Mr Foti said narrating the eight-minute 9PM Family Fireworks and the 12-minute Midnight Fireworks was all about evoking the mood that each colourful display creates.

“We choreograph the fireworks months before the event and we don’t actually see them until everyone else does, so it’s pretty much in our imagination until the day.”