A guide to theatre access: marketing for captioning
Communicate information about assisted performances effectively to as broad a range of people as possible with tips from this handy guide.
This guide is adapted from www.accessibletheatre.org.uk with material from the See a Voice project led by Stagetext and VocalEyes.
What is captioning?
Captioning is a way of converting the spoken word into visible text that provides deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people with access to live performance. The text is displayed on a caption unit (LED) situated on or next to the stage.
As well as dialogue, the captions also include the name of the character who is speaking or singing and descriptions of any sound effects or music.
Captioning is a service for anyone who may have difficulty hearing or understanding the audible elements of a live art event.
With theatre captioning, the captions are operated live, with a trained captioner triggering each line of text to be displayed as it is being spoken or sung.
The captioner will have worked on pre-formatting the script into the captioning software, working with a dvd recording of the show and viewing several live performances to make sure the text displayed accurately matches what is being said, as well as how - i.e. mirroring individual performers' timing.
Gaining an insight into the existing and potential audience for captioned performances can inform not only your marketing and audience strategies but also your decisions around programming and service development.
Clear and consistent communication strategies will ultimately help your organisation achieve its aims in making a commitment to access and inclusion.
Who is it for?
The primary target audience fo captioning is deaf people. What does 'deaf' mean?
The term deaf can be used to cover a range of people with a very broad range of hearing levels. Generally they are broken down into three groups:
- Deaf people
- Hard of hearing people
- Deafened people
Caption users can fall into any of these categories and each individual may have a different perspective.
Deaf people are just as diverse as any other market sector. Many deaf audience members don't think of themselves as disabled so messages about disability or access may not feel relevant to them. a member of the public who is new to hearing loss, who may have been a regular theatregoer but now finds it difficult to enjoy the experience, is unlikely to pick up a leaflet about services for deaf and disabled people. They will have little to no personal relationship with terms like 'accessible' or 'assisted performances'.
Download the guide to read more:
A guide to theatre access (PDF)
Image courtesy of Stagetext. © Heather Judge. CaptionCue test event at the National Theatre, 2015.