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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