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Stagetext appoints digital accessibility expert as new Chair

Stagetext is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Chair of its Board of Trustees: Professor Jonathan Hassell.

Professor Hassell takes over from Richard Lee, who will step down from the role after serving as Chair for six years.

Professor Hassell is a globally recognised thought leader in digital inclusion and the former Head of Audience Experience and Usability at the BBC. He is the founder of Open Inclusion, an organisation providing training and consultancy on accessibility and inclusive design.

Hassell has made a significant contribution to improving web accessibility and whilst at the BBC, won awards for managing accessibility on innovative projects including BBC iPlayer. He also authored the British Web Accessibility standards, BS 8878.

Professor Jonathan Hassell, Stagetext’s new Chair, said: ‘Creating equal access for all is at the heart of what I do. As Chair for Stagetext, I will combine a deep passion for the arts with 15 years of digital inclusion experience to help achieve the charity’s goals.

Cultural and arts venues have made great strides in improving accessibility in recent years, but millions of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people across the UK are still missing out. There is huge potential for further innovation and I look forward to working with the Trustees and Stagetext to help open up the arts to many more people.’


Stagetext’s current Chair, Richard Lee, who is the Consultant Director at Jerwood Space in London, has decided to retire. Richard became the second Chair of the Board when he took over from Stagetext’s Co-founder, Peter Pullan MBE, in 2010. During his time at Stagetext, Richard has seen the growth of captioning across the UK, as well as the development of a live subtitled talks programme in museums and galleries and a subtitling Digital department to ensure arts and culture is accessible online.

Richard Lee, outgoing Chair of Stagetext, said: ‘Being the Chair of Stagetext for the past six years has been a huge honour. I will continue to be a passionate ambassador of Stagetext and, being hard of hearing myself, a user of the charity’s invaluable services. I’m delighted to announce Jonathan as the new Chair and wish him the very best.’

Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive at Stagetext, said: We have found a truly exceptional candidate to work with our highly engaged Board of Trustees. Jonathan brings wide-ranging expertise in digital inclusion and accessibility and we hope to tap into this to move the charity forward. It is with sadness that we say farewell to Richard Lee, who has been the most passionate and hard-working Chair, and thank him for his valuable contribution.’

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The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council