Captioning Basics
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Captioning Basics



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Captioning Basics Captioning Basics Presentation Transcript

  • Theatre Captioning
    Making theatre accessible to
    deaf, deafened and
    hard of hearing audience members
  • What can you make out from this piece of spoken text?
    Credit: University of Manchester
  • This is what theatre performances would sound like to audience members with a hearing loss
    • Body language & lipreading would give more information but... View slide
    • Amplification would not help View slide
    • BSL interpretation only helps BSL users
  • What can you make out this time?
  • Credit: Makes Sense
  • Who uses captions?
    Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people who wish to access plays in English
    1 in 7 of the UK population, 9 million people
    People whose hearing is not as sharp as it used to be
    55% of people over 60 have age-related hearing loss
    Hearing audiences
    Anyone who has difficulty following strong accents
    Students who are studying the text of a play
    People whose first language is not English
  • 359 people in audience
    17 people booked for captioning with box office (4% of total audience)
    103 people returned the card to say that they had found the captions useful (29% of total audience)
    CONCLUSION:25% of people using captioning do not request the service
    The undeclared audience
    New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
  • Preparation of captions
  • Delivery of captions
    Speech appears as text on caption unit(s) at exactly the same time as words are spoken or sung.
    Full text, speaker names, sound effects, music and offstage noises are shown
    Similar to television subtitles & opera surtitling but crucial differences:
    Opera surtitles are above the stage & often difficult to read
    Both television subtitles & opera surtitles can be edited down from the full dialogue
    Television subtitles can come up ahead of the dialogue and spoil punchlines / important plot points.
  • Benefits of captions
    Makes theatre accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people
    To enable a person with a hearing loss to appreciate the spirit, meaning and intent of the performance and obtain the same experience as a hearing person obtains in a theatre
    Fosters social inclusion
    A theatre is truly accessible to customers with a hearing loss if it has captioned performances, sign language interpreted performances and a good working sound enhancement system
  • STAGETEXT captioner
    at Bristol Old Vic
    Photo: Mike Lusmore
    The Captioned performance
  • Technical possibilities
    Caption Unit
    Plasma Screen
    Centre photo from Chelmsford Civic Theatres
  • Text position
    Decide as early as possible
    (the model caption unit above is used in set models)
    Include everyone - lighting, sound, stage management, box office and front of house
    Allocate seats accordingly
    Check lights, speakers, safety curtain & sight lines
    Caption units should be -
    • Ideally in the set
    • As close to the action as possible
    • At about actors’ head height
    Caption unit model from New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
  • Deafened actor Tim Barlow as Tybalt, prior to the captioned performance of Juliet and Her Romeo, Bristol Old Vic (April 2010). Photo: Mike Lusmore
  • Captioned performance of
    Little Women
    Sadler’s Wells
  • Captioned performance of Aladdin, The Wok ‘n’ Roll Panto
    New Wolsey, Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak
  • Speech-to-text transcribed post-show discussion after
    Hampstead Theatre
  • Warm-up prior to the captioned performance of Life is a Dream
    Donmar Warehouse
    Photo: Matt Humphrey
  • Captioned performance of Miss Saigon at the Bristol Hippodrome
    Captioned performance of Miss Saigon at the Bristol Hippodrome
  • Captioned performance of
    Hansel and Gretel
    Northern Stage
    Photo: Linda Borthwick
  • Making captioning work
    Making a commitment
    Captioning works best when whole organisation is committed
    Giving proper support to captioners
    Promoting the show effectively
    Include prominently on all marketing
    Making links with local older people’s groups and so on
    Making it easy for caption-users to book tickets
    Making sure it’s All Right On The Night!
    Installing & running technical equipment early
    Double checking position of text & caption-user seats
    Customer care for audience members including deaf awareness training for front of house staff
  • Feedback from our users
    “We didn’t talk about the captions. We talked about whether or not the death throes of the performers were realistic.”
    “ STAGETEXT has enabled me to go to the theatre with my family once more. ”
    “This has opened up an entirely new world for me. The sheer delight in being able to fully understand a play is difficult to convey to a hearing person”
  • Questions?
  • Thank you!
  • For more information
    Email Lissy Lovett at