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The National Theatre’s Smart Glasses Offer More Access

Jonathan Suffolk trialling the caption glasses at Stagetext’s open day.Today sees the launch of The National Theatre’s (NT) state-of-the-art smart caption glasses, which will increase theatre access for d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences.

Stagetext closely advised on the project which aims to make every production that the NT produce accessible to audiences on any day and at any time, with their “Open Access Smart Capture” technology.

Melanie Sharpe, Stagetext CEO said: “This really is an exciting time for d/Deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing audiences; these glasses will offer an additional form of access to sit alongside open captioning, giving even more choice for anyone wanting to experience live theatre.

“Over the last few years of their development, we’ve been advising on the captioning element of the project, and our users have had first-hand experience testing and providing feedback for the glasses, all to help ensure this is the best form of access it can be.”

The glasses use tailormade technology to synchronise automatically queued, but pre-prepared captions, directly onto the lenses. 

The smart caption glasses will be available for public use from today for performances of War Horse and Hadestown, alongside the existing open captioning that the NT offers.

The glasses will then be available to book for the NT's new season, which goes on sale in October for performances from January 2019. The glasses will continue to undergo development and testing during 2019 with support from members of the Stagetext User Panel and Stagetext’s expert captioners, in order to keep improving the technology. 

Jonathan Suffolk, Technical Director of the National Theatre said: "In the development of the smart caption glasses, the National Theatre has relied on the skill and expertise of Stagetext's captioners so that we can be sure that the closed captioning offered on the glasses matches the high standards that d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people have come to expect from the open captioned performances offered by Stagetext.

"We look forward to working with Stagetext over the coming months and years to ensure that both the open and closed captioning offered here at the National Theatre offers the widest range of opportunities for audiences with a hearing loss to attend our performances."

To find out more about the glasses and to book accessible performances please visit: nationaltheatre.org.uk/access

 

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The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council