The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine is Talking Birds‘ discrete tool for making performances and events accessible to d/Deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind or partially-sighted audience members by delivering captioning or audio description direct to their own mobile devices.

It has been developed by artists, for artists – we made the Difference Engine (named after Charles Babbage’s 1822 computer) because we wanted to give more people the chance to access experimental, outdoor, small scale or immersive performance.

We have a dedicated website for the Difference Engine where you can find out more about how it might improve accessibility for you as an audience member or a company wanting to hire a kit.


We try to make our work from a standpoint of universal access, because we believe that this makes the work better. We know that no single ‘access solution’ works for everyone, but we have also learned that there are a lot of things we can do, or put in place around our work, which will make it more open and enjoyable for audiences and for ourselves.

We think that improving accessibility is a conversation best had by the creative team at the beginning of the process of making a piece of work. It never really succeeds if it is only thought about by the marketing department (if there *is* a marketing department…) once the show is nearly ready to open – and, in any case, artists are almost always those best placed to come up with creative access solutions.

Our most famous access innovation is probably the Difference Engine – which delivers captioning and audio description to audience’s mobile devices. It is really useful in a lot of situations, particularly where space or funds prevent some of the more conventional access tools being used.