Subtitling in the theatre

Captioning is a way of converting what someone says into visible text, so that people with hearing loss can have access to live performances. Captions are produced by a computer and a display unit installed on or near the stage, and let people with hearing loss understand what is being said at the time it is said. A captioned performance is delivered, live, by a trained captioner. Sound effects and off-stage noises can also be included, and the captioner can use a full or edited text in any language.

The script is formatted using a sophisticated text editing routine, and displayed on a LED screen that is modified with an interface allowing the correct display of the text on the screen. The text is scrolled at the same time as the actors speak. If the scrolling is timed correctly many people with some residual hearing can hear the actors much more clearly.

There are organisations which offer a captioning service to theaters, such as Stagetext (external link, opens new browser window), a charity set up to make theater accessible to people with a hearing loss. Some theaters are buying their own equipment that will let them to deliver captioned performances in-house once they have appropriately trained captioners.

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Subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing people are a text display of dialogue and sound effects of an event, such as a show, television programme or film. These shows and programmes become completely inaccessible to deaf and hard of hearing people without the use of subtitles. And when subtitles on television have been produced for hearing audiences, such as translations of foreign language films, they usually don't include a description in text of sound effects. However, this is vital for deaf and hard of hearing people, particularly when those sounds are off screen.

Many hearing people would benefit from increased subtitling. As well as deaf and hard of hearing people, people learning a second language, people with learning difficulties and children starting to read also benefit from subtitling. So by increasing the amount of subtitling on television, broadcasters are providing an improved service for the majority of their viewers.

Subtitling on television

Subtitling makes television accessible for many deaf and hard of hearing people, as well as many hearing people. Without it, television is completely inaccessible for them. Television is received in two different formats in the UK, analogue and digital television. Subtitling is provided in both of these television formats but they each deliver the subtitles in different ways and with different results.(...)

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