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Subtitled shows bring theatre alive for hard of hearing

Arts charity Stagetext has this week been celebrating its campaign to make the arts more accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The fourth annual Captioning Awareness Week has seen theatres, museums and galleries across the country holding captioned and live subtitled events.

Deafinintely Girly, theatre blogger said:

Before I found out I was deaf I was falling asleep at the theatre. Feeling stupid because I couldn’t follow Shakespeare, wondering why people went to see musicals as there were no intelligible words being said.

And then along came captions. And they saved my life. My quality of life. My belief in my own intelligence. And they gave me back the chance to have an amazing time at the theatre and leave feeling elated, educated and included.

The captioned and subtitled performances included Matilda the Musical at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre in London, Othello at the Northern Stage in Newcastle, and Measure for Measure at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The campaign also drew the support of Joey from Warhorse, who is taking part in a specially captioned performance at the National Theatre next month.

Around 11 million people in the UK experience some form of hearing loss, yet fewer than 1% are fluent in British Sign Language.

Melanie Sharpe, CEO of Stagetext, said the campaign was important for encouraging other arts venue to think about their offering to deaf, deafened or hard of hearing audiences:

Through Captioning Awareness Week we hope to shine a spotlight on the variety of different events and experiences that are available, so that audience members with hearing loss, or people who miss a word here and there can have their theatrical and cultural experiences transformed.

Although the Captioning Awareness Week is a celebration, it is also a reminder of how much further we need to come to ensure that large sections of society aren’t excluded from something that many of us take for granted.

Image: © Cameron Slater