Colchester’s Big Festive Switch On to be live subtitled by Stagetext.

Colchester’s Big Festive Switch On to be live subtitled by Stagetext.

In what is thought to be the first of its kind for the eastern region, Stagetext will be spreading Christmas cheer, by providing live subtitles for the switching on of Colchester’s Christmas lights.  

The addition of live subtitles at the Big Festive Switch On will ensure that everyone attending can fully enjoy the entertainment on offer. Stagetext are delighted to be bringing deaf access to a wider audience and raising awareness of subtitles and captions as part of their annual campaign, Captioning Awareness Week.

Thanks to the partnership between Stagetext, Colchester City Council and the Mercury Theatre, families and friends can enjoy a more inclusive experience. The event will feature a parade, the switching on of the Christmas lights and the post parade entertainment featuring Panto favourites ASH and Dale, (Anthony Stuart-Hicks and Dale Superville), singers Jaimie Pruden and Lexi Talbot and others. 

The parade and lights switch on will be live streamed on to a large screen next to the outdoor stage by the Mercury Theatre, with verbatim subtitles being created in real time. This means that everything said during the parade live stream and on the stage will be displayed on the screen. These live subtitles are created by a highly trained speech-to-text reporter (STTR), who uses a specialist phonetic keyboard to deliver up to 300 words per minute at 99% accuracy.  

Melanie Sharpe, Stagetext’s Chief Executive, said the event will help shine a spotlight on deaf access: 

“This is also a first for Stagetext in Colchester. Being able to provide subtitles at a live outdoor event is a fabulous opportunity for everyone to get into the Christmas spirit. By moving to Colchester from London we want to make sure that we become part of the local cultural scene and that everybody in the city has equal access to live entertainment. 

Live subtitles mean that you can follow what’s being said on stage word for word – which is vital for the 1 in 5 people in the community who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.” 

David Deacon, an ambassador for Stagetext said: 

‘It is absolutely fantastic that Stagetext will be live captioning this wonderful celebratory event. This is the type of event that brings communities together, friends, families and neighbours, and as a deaf person, I can finally feel included. The holidays may not be for everyone, but this is one step closer to achieving equal access for all. I think it will be a terrific event and everyone will have a wonderful time.’ 

Stagetext recently relocated to Colchester, supported by the Arts Council to work more closely with a wide range of arts, culture and heritage organisations within the region.   

Steve Mannix, Executive Director of the Mercury Theatre said:  

“This is the first live event we are working on with Stagetext since they moved to Colchester. We are delighted to be supporting them in what will be a lovely community event bringing everyone from all walks of life together. Providing live subtitles for our entertainment will bring a sprinkle of magic to the warmup to Christmas.” 

12 million people in the UK are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, which is one in five people who could benefit from subtitles and captions to experience theatre and arts and cultural events.  

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