Sat 23 Jan 16 marked an exciting day for Stagetext, as we provided our first outdoor tablet tours with live subtitles at the Kentish Town Lock Open Day, part of the Canal and Rivers Trust, in North West London.
Stagetext provides theatre captioning and live subtitling in cultural venues for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences. Lives subtitling is the process by which a speakers’ words are displayed openly on screens for talks and lectures, or appear on handheld tablets for tours.
After being contacted in December by the Canal and Rivers Trust, we agreed to pilot our first outdoor tablet tour on 23 January, an exciting new development for both organisations. Following some deaf awareness training and technical checks in the morning, by the afternoon we were ready to go. Luckily, the sun was shining and the lock was extremely busy. Our two wonderful guides, Sam and Florence, took us down to the canal floor and told us about the current renovation work, why it was needed, as well as the history of the canal network; and there were chances to ask lots of questions. The guides spoke into a mobile phone, and Wendy, who was providing the live subtitles remotely, transcribed what they said into text which appeared on the handheld tablets through a website link. Despite the pump being rather noisy as we neared it to see the workings in the lock, Wendy managed to catch every word and kept the subtitles flowing throughout.
Feedback after the three tours was overwhelmingly positive, even from hearing visitors who peered over our shoulders to read the subtitles and were keen to know how it all worked. One deaf visitor tweeted:
‘Did not miss a word of guided tour of Kentish Town Lock. Thanks to @Stagetext accurate live captioning (subtitles). Fascinating.’
Deepa Shastri, Stagetext’s Talks Programme Manager, said:
‘We really want to thank the Canal & Rivers Trust for taking this bold step of being the first organisation to provide live subtitles for an outside tour so that deaf and hard of hearing visitors could enjoy these fascinating tours. Let’s hope there will be more of them in the future.’