As part of our series on accessibility in theatre, we spoke to Melanie Sharpe, CEO of Stagetext, a charity dedicated to providing captioning and subtitling services for deaf and hard of hearing people in venues across the UK.
Stagetext is a national charity that provides captioning and live subtitling in theatres and cultural venues to give deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people access to live arts events. We also subtitle online arts content, ensuring that equality and inclusion is at the heart of every cultural experience.
11 million people in the UK are deaf, deafened and hard of hearing – that’s 1 in 6 of us, and this figure is set to rise to 15.6 million by 2035. For many people who lose their hearing later in life, learning British Sign Language (BSL) can be a challenge, which is why text-based access can build engagement and open up the arts to many more audiences.
In theatre, we provide a captioning service which is similar to television subtitles, where a script of the play or musical is prepared in advance and then outputted to a screen, usually placed in the set or as close to the action as possible, as the words are spoken by the actors.
In this short film entitled Getting More Theatre For Your Bucks, deaf and hard of hearing audience members talk about their experiences of attending captioned theatre performances, and the positive effect it’s had on their lives.
To find out more about Stagetext’s work, visit their website.
If you would like to find out more about accessible performances taking place across London you can sign up to our monthly Access Newsletter, with news and information about upcoming productions. For full listings of assisted performances you can subscribe to our free, tri-annual Access London Theatre brochure.