Stagetext launch Captioning Awareness Week to improve access for deaf and hard of hearing audiences

Arts charity chief Melanie Sharpe has called on arts venues in England to improve access for people who are d/Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

The comments came as the charity Stagetext launched Captioning Awareness Week (12-18 November). The campaign sees theatres, museums, and galleries across the country holding captioned and live subtitled events in order to promote access, find new audiences, and improve people’s experiences within the arts.

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 said that campaigns such as Captioning Awareness Week were hugely important for making people aware of such a service, as well as encouraging other arts venue to think about their offering to d/Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing audiences.

Melanie Sharpe, CEO of Stagetext, said: “By unifying arts venues and caption users from around the country, Stagetext hopes to bring to life the passion and excitement of the arts to many more people.

“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.

“Recent research has shown that fewer than one in five (19%)* accredited museums failed to provide any access information online.

“Overall the amount of detail is poor, with the majority of museums providing little more than basic information relevant for people with mobility impairment only, which does not address the access needs of many people.

“Similar can be seen with theatres, with approximately one in four (28%) not providing any access information online.

“Captioning Awareness Week isn’t just about awareness for the public, but also to make venues aware that more needs to be done to be fully accessible.”

Stagetext provide captions, live subtitles, and digital subtitles to hundreds of productions and events throughout the UK, including Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and The Edinburgh International Book Festival, opening up arts and culture to people who may not catch every word.

Captioning Awareness Week raises the profile of captioned and live subtitled events, in which the words are displayed on screens at the same time as they are spoken or sung.

Get involved with Captioning Awareness week by finding an event to attend at or join the fun on social media with #CAPaware18.


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