Every word counts

Community Captioning

Community Captioning is a new Stagetext initiative to train community captioners who will work on a voluntary basis to provide access to live theatre performances offered by community groups, non-professional theatre companies and voluntary arts organisations.  

While community captioners will not take the full Stagetext Training Course for Theatre Captioners who work in professional theatres, they will need to complete a short course in the principles of captioning for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences and will learn how to use Stagetext’s bespoke captioning software. Community captioners will not be qualified to work in mainstream theatre and Stagetext will not book them to caption shows.

Displaying the captions

The captions can be displayed in a variety of ways. A community group could ask to borrow the LED captioning displays owned by a local professional theatre or the text could be shown on an LCD or plasma screen or projected onto the set or a screen at the side of the stage. And if a group is really keen to offer captioning regularly, it might make sense for them to fundraise for the money to buy an LED display of their own.

First pilot

The first pilot course took place in October 2010 when two members of the Alfred Williams Heritage Society in Swindon received training and later captioned their production of The Hammerman at the town’s Steam Museum.



Richmond Shakespeare Society

In June 2013, Richmond Shakespeare Society (RSS) provided captions for the first time at their production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. This was a great opportunity for local deaf and hard of hearing people to experience live theatre in the glorious outdoor setting of the Fountain Gardens on Twickenham Riverside.

RSS is the latest company to join our Community Captioning project.


Further information

If you would like more information on the Community Captioning project and the costs involved, please email Melanie Sharpe.

Voluntary Arts produced a Briefing Paper in December 2011, on making performances accessible to people with hearing and sight loss. You can download this here.

The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council