Lockdown online events must be accessible to deaf audiences says charity Stagetext.
Stagetext, which provides captioning and live subtitling in theatres and cultural venues, is concerned about the disproportionate impact the lockdown will have on d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people. It follows official figures released in the summer which show that people with a hearing impairment are 45% more likely to have reported feeling lonely.
The arts charity has seen an increase in demand for live captioned performances online since the first UK lockdown, with a 110% increase in live subtitled events from April to October. 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).
Nearly one in five (18%) of UK adults have hearing loss, yet fewer than 1% are fluent in British Sign Language.
The call comes as Stagetext celebrates its sixth annual Captioning Awareness Week (CAW) (9-15 November 2020), which is supported by theatres, museums and galleries in the UK.
The campaign highlights the importance of access to the arts for d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences, 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 and discussions are also being organised by the British Library, the British Academy and the Royal Society.
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. The charity is concerned that this could go under the radar once venues re-open, as the arts sector fights for its future.
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