Vivid Sydney uses sounds, touch to bring light festival to vision impaired people

Vivid Sydney is encouraging blind and vision impaired people to use their other senses to experience the light festival.

Vivid transforms landmarks across the city using light, colour and sounds and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

But making the spectacle accessible for people with limited or no vision is a challenge, particularly when it comes to what is arguably the highlight of the show, the lighting of the sails at the Opera House.

Commentator Emma Bedford helps make it possible for vision impaired visitors to experience the displays.

Ms Bedford described exhibits, including Audio Creatures.

"Behind these pink, bent over tentacles that could reach all the way to the top but they flop forward, the sails are a greenish-blue," she said.

"The whole picture before us seems to pulse with internal lighting."

Jaci Armstrong, accompanied by her dog, Nancy, was one of 50 people to attend the event on the western boardwalk of the Opera House last night.

"I'm very short sighted and have no night sight. But I can occasionally see a little bit of colour," Ms Armstrong said.

"Without the audio description and the detail that's provided I wouldn't be able to tell what's happening on the sails, and I wouldn't be able to enjoy the experience of Vivid as others can."

Getting a feel for the Opera House

For Zara Perry, 11, who has very low vision, it was a refreshing change from trying to view the lights through binoculars and having to rely on her family to understand what is going on.

"I couldn't really tell what was what" she said.

"And then with the audio description it kind of helps me know like what to look for."

During the half hour event, shiny and matte tiles from the World Heritage-listed Opera House were passed around, along with models of the iconic structure.

The Accessibility Manager at the Opera House, Jenny Spinak, said the tactile element has made a big difference.

"When we started doing this and passing around the models of the Opera House, people were for the first time saying, 'now I know what the Opera House feels like'."

Ms Spinak said it gave people an idea of the shape of the structure.

"It's really about everyone coming together, feeling part of the community and accessing the arts which otherwise they wouldn't be able to do."

The light show runs until June 17.