What does Stagetext do?

We are a deaf-led charity that makes arts and culture accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people.

We use captions and subtitles so that the one in five of us who need them can experience the joy of live theatre, sing along with our favourite musicals, take guided tours around museums, and see our favourite authors speak at festivals.

Find out more about our work on our About Us page.

What’s the difference between captions and subtitles?

In everyday life, the words ‘captions’ and ‘subtitles’ are often used interchangeably. At Stagetext we distinguish between three different types of captions and subtitles, because they are produced in different ways.

  • Theatre captioning is for scripted performance – prepared and cued live by a theatre captioner
  • Live subtitling is for unscripted speech – produced live by a speech-to-text reporter
  • Digital subtitling is for pre-recorded videos – prepared by a digital subtitler

Whatever you call them, captions and subtitles are the verbatim, accessible text that allows deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people to be included.

What about surtitles?

Surtitles are generally provided for opera and plays performed in a foreign language, and they are English translations of what is being said on stage, rather than being verbatim text. They are intended for hearing audiences, and do not typically include the information that would make them accessible, such as character names, and descriptions of offstage noises and sound effects.

There’s a show that I’d like to see with captions. How can I make this happen?

As well as providing captions and subtitles, we are a charity that campaigns and advocates for access. We’re always trying to get more theatres and venues to put on captioned events.

If there is an event or video you’d like to see captioned, then please contact us. We have good relationships with venues across the country and will happily talk to them on your behalf.

However, we do find that it’s even more impactful if you contact the venue directly. Let them know that there is a demand for captioned events and that you’d like to see more access at their venue.

The final decision on putting on a captioned event will be made by the venue or production team, but we will always work hard to get as many events captioned as possible.

Do hearing people find captions distracting?

Occasionally, some hearing people are concerned that the captions will be distracting. However, we regularly receive feedback from audiences who, on the whole, either find the captions useful (for example, they help with difficult accents, and help you catch the odd word you may miss here and there) or are able to enjoy the production without the captions being seen as a distraction.

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