Every word counts

See a Voice

In 2006, Stagetext and VocalEyes won a joint award of over £1million in order to extend access to the theatre for deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, blind and partially-sighted people. The funding came from the Treasury’s Invest to Save Round 8, announced in the Chancellor’s Budget Statement, and was matched with an award under the Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.

The three-year See a Voice project, which came to an end on 31 March 2010, resulted in an expansion in high quality provision of audio description and captioning around England.  Groups of theatres and venues were invited to join together as local hubs to share equipment, training and marketing, and to collaborate in making their work fully accessible to existing and new audiences in a more cost-effective way than was previously possible. 

By 31 December 2009

  • 27 venues of differing scales were participating in the project, from the Bush Theatre in London to Liverpool Empire, enabling access to a very broad range of theatre programming.
  • 21 new captioners and 27 audio describers had been trained across England.
  • 241 captioned and 216 audio described performances had been delivered by participating venues.
  • over 700 theatre staff had been trained by Audience Liaison Officers Deepa Shastri and Kirin Saeed in customer care for deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, blind and partially sighted audiences.

Participating venues/organisations

London: Almeida, Bush Theatre, Gate Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Old Vic, Oval House, Soho Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Young Vic.
Birmingham: Birmingham Rep and Birmingham Hippodrome.
Keswick: Theatre by the Lake.
Liverpool: Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Liverpool Empire and Brindley Arts Centre.
Newcastle: Theatre Royal, Northern Stage and Live Theatre.
Oxford: Oxford Playhouse and Oxfordshire Theatre Company.
Essex/Suffolk: New Wolsey, Ipswich, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, and Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds.
Yorkshire: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, York Theatre Royal and Harrogate Theatre.
Poole: The Lighthouse, Poole Centre for the Arts.
The Touring Consortium.

See a Voice materials

  • Customer Care training materials.This vital resource was developed to address the gap in learning experienced by customer-facing staff who have not been able to attend awareness training sessions, are new, or who would welcome a refresher. It will help to

    - Raise staff awareness and confidence in meeting the needs of deaf, deafened or hard of hearing  patrons
    - Raise staff awareness and confidence in meeting the needs of blind or partially sighted patrons
    - Develope an understanding of what a captioned or audio described performance is
    - Develop an understanding of the role they play in creating a positive experience
    - Offer downloadable and printable resources and guidelines

It cannot, and should not, replace invaluable face-to-face training, but it can help ensure that knowledge and understanding is consistent throughout your organisation. The learning is suitable for anyone with a customer facing role as well as marketing, administrative and management staff.

Please contact enquiries@stagetext.org for more information.

  • A Marketing Toolkit had been created as part of the See a Voice project legacy. A practical resource for Access Officers, Marketing Officers and Front of House staff, it provides invaluable information for theatres when promoting captioned performances.

  • This has since been updated and all our new marketing documents can be found together at stagetext.org/digital-resources

Further information

For further information on the See a Voice project and captioning, please email enquiries@stagetext.org  or call her on 020 7377 0540.

For enquiries on the See a Voice project and audio description, please email VocalEyes or call them on 020 7375 1043. VocalEyes website


The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council