Captioning Awareness Week champions access for Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences


Stagetext, the leading captioning charity for the arts and cultural sectors, will host its second Captioning Awareness Week from 14 to 19 November 2016.The week aims to raise awareness of captioning and live subtitling in cultural venues, which give deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences equal access to arts events such as theatre plays, musicals, museum talks and tours and literary festivals.

National Theatre performance at CaptionCue event

Stagetext’s CaptionCue test event at the National Theatre. – Photo by Heather Judge

In a recent poll, Stagetext found that familiarity with services to make arts and culture more accessible, such as captioning, is currently low amongst adults in the UK. Indeed, last year, whilst at least 25,000 people benefited from a captioned or live subtitled event, it is estimated that 11 million people in the UK have some degree of hearing loss – indicating huge numbers could be missing out.

During the week, 14 captioned and live subtitled events will be taking place around the country. This includes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, Wind in the Willows at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, The Red Barn at the National Theatre in London and a tour, Bedlam – the asylum and beyond, taking place at the Wellcome Collection in London.  A competition to be released during the week will also offer Stagetext’s e-news members a chance to win 2 captioned tickets to: Mamma Mia! At the Novello Theatre in London or The Woman in Black at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham.

Theatres, arts venues and caption users are also being encouraged to pledge their support by ‘putting their name in the frame’. Venues, organisations and caption users are being asked to download a special Captioning Awareness Week frame from the Stagetext website, write their or their organisation’s name in it, take a selfie of them holding it and share it on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #CAPaware16.

Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive, Stagetext said:

“Audience members with various forms of hearing loss, or anyone who miss a word here and there, can have their theatrical and cultural experiences transformed by captioning and live subtitling, but many are unaware it exists. By unifying arts venues and caption users from around the country, Stagetext hopes to bring to life the passion and excitement of the arts to many more people.”

A Stagetext tour of a Wellcome Trust exhibit

Sexology tour. Mike Massaro ­ 1972. Photo: Wellcome Trust

Caption user Michelle Hedley, has experienced the benefit of captioning in the theatre:

“There is no doubt in my mind that captions have transformed my theatrical life for the better….Not only do they allow me to access a performance in its entirety, they also act as a social catalyst, as I can then discuss with my friends in the interval and afterwards.”

Lucinda Harvey, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Access Advisor, said:

“We are always on the lookout for ways to make our work as accessible as possible, and to make theatre for everyone, which is why we were one of the first to take part in Stagetext’s ground breaking captioned performances. As a national theatre, which regularly captions its shows, we are really pleased to be able to encourage more people to enjoy live theatre.”