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Make online events during Lockdown accessible to deaf

A charity has today called on arts venues and performers to remember to cater for deaf and hard of hearing audiences during the second Lockdown.

Stagetext, an arts charity, is concerned about the mental wellbeing of those with hearing impairments, following official statistics released in the summer which showed they are 45% more likely to feel lonely compared to non-disabled people.

The comments were made as the sixth annual Captioning Awareness Week (9-15 November) begins. The campaign comes at a time when performances and exhibitions are being accessed online more than ever before.

Highlights during Captioning Awareness Week include a live subtitled performance of Olivier Award winning play Emilia and a number of renowned shows under the banner of The Shows Must Go On. Live captioned lectures are also being organised by the British Library, the British Academy and the Royal Society.

Stagetext has seen an increase in demand for subtitled performances during the lockdown. In April, it provided the subtitling for the Phantom of the Opera, with an incredible 2.5 million watching using Stagetext’s subtitles (12.8 million in total watched the performance).

Mum of three Ann Jillings from Lowestoft in Suffolk, whose teenage son is deaf, said the captioning of shows during the pandemic has enabled her family to enjoy online shows together.

Ann said: 

We have really appreciated the captioning of shows streamed online during the pandemic. During what is already a challenging time for so many of us, it’s really important we can come together as a family during lockdown to watch some of the great performances and exhibitions on offer.

Stagetext is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has seen huge improvements in access to the arts for d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people during that time.

Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive of Stagetext, said: 

We are fortunate enough in the UK to have some of the best theatres, museums and galleries in the world. We must do all we can as a sector to continue providing access for those who would otherwise be excluded.

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