New research commissioned by national deaf access charity, Stagetext, reveals 42% of people cite ‘concentration’ as a reason to use captions and subtitles.
The research, conducted by The Audience Agency on behalf of Stagetext, shows that 42% of people questioned said they use subtitles or captions to help with concentration. Almost a quarter (24%) of all respondents said they used captions or subtitles at live events and 54% of people use them to watch content on TV or online.
It also found that most of the people using subtitles for TV and online were under the age of 25. Of that age group, more than half cited ‘to help me concentrate’ as a reason for using subtitles.
Stagetext’s Chief Executive, Melanie Sharpe commented on the recent findings:
‘Stagetext is really encouraged by these figures. There are a significant amount of people saying they use captions and subtitles for watching online and at live events.’
The report also highlighted that whatever the reason people were using captions and subtitles for, they made a difference to the experience. A huge 74% of people said that they made a positive difference, with 35% of those saying they made the experience ‘a lot better’.
Melanie Sharpe went on to add: ‘Whether people are using them because they are deaf, neurodivergent or to support literacy, it’s clear they help with concentration and make a positive difference to their experience. These figures support the move towards using subtitles, and I hope that arts organisations see this as evidence for providing subtitles and captions as standard, so that all audience members can benefit.’
The new figures are reflective of findings from a similar research project conducted by Sapio on behalf of Stagetext two years ago, where 50% said they used subtitles, for some or all of the time to watch TV. In the research conducted in 2021 and in 2023, young people were the biggest age group to use subtitles, which was also reflected in a poll that YouGov conducted earlier this year.
David, a subtitle user explained why they are important to him: ‘I’m hard of hearing and I use subtitles every day, as they are so important for me to watch TV or attend live events. Without them I have to concentrate so much more and I often miss things, which means I just don’t enjoy the performance or video I am watching. The arts are just wonderful in the UK, but there is so much I am unable to experience because they don’t include subtitles.’
Coming up this week.
Stagetext celebrates their annual campaign, Captioning Awareness Week (13 to 18 November). The charity’s campaign advocates for more access to the arts for 12 million deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people in the UK. It also highlights their work within the arts and reinforces the need for venues and arts organisations to provide access with captions and subtitles.