An audience at a performance

Definitions

A theatre stage with two actors and a captioning unit.

What patrons have said …

“The whole experience was so different to my usual theatre visits. The captioning made such a difference.”

“I introduced a deaf friend to captioning – she hadn’t been to the theatre for 20 years.”

Research commissioned by the Society of London Theatre (Access all Areas) found that potential audiences were not always aware that captioning existed; in fact, many of them do not actually consider themselves to be deaf or hard of hearing. This means that we need to do some explaining. How would assisted performances benefit them? What exactly are they?

We need to present the explanations in ways that will attract the attention of people who do not necessarily consider themselves disabled or to have access needs. And don’t forget about the friends and family of deaf, deafened or hard of hearing people – they may be the ones who suggest trying it out for the first time.

We also need to communicate effectively with ‘gatekeepers’, those people who work, either in a voluntary or professional capacity, supporting or advocating on behalf of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people, e.g. lipreading teachers, council support services or social clubs. They need to understand what the experience is like too.

What you can do …

Prepare 3 versions of a service definition that you and other venue staff can use consistently throughout your communication materials:

• a single strapline

English text displayed on a unit for deaf and hard of hearing patrons.

• a brief paragraph

Captioning converts the spoken word into text which is displayed on a caption unit situated on or next to the stage. As well as dialogue, the captions also include the name of the character who is speaking or singing and descriptions of any sound effects or music. Captioning is a service for anyone who may have difficulty hearing or understanding the audible elements of a performance.

• a longer, detailed explanation

This would highlight what the service is, how it works, what the patrons need to do to make best use of it and what they might be able expect from the experience.

You can print off our suggestion of a longer, detailed explanation from this audio description service definition: Service-definition-CAP

Now go to: Logos