UK charity Stagetext, which provides captioning and live subtitling in theatres and cultural venues, has urged those providing virtual lockdown events to ensure they are accessible for the 12 million with hearing loss. The organisation reported an increase in demand for live captioned performances online since the first national lockdown, and found being able to access entertainment was a lifeline for many isolated deaf people.
Melanie Sharpe, chief executive of Stagetext, said: “People who are deaf or with hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness than non-disabled people, and access to the arts has been proven to improve mental wellbeing.” She continued: “We take for granted that most of us are able to enjoy incredible performances and exhibitions, even during a lockdown. For the 12 million in the UK who are hard of hearing, it’s not so easy, and we’ve got to do all we can to include them during these challenging times.”
2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Stagetext, and this month will sees the sixth annual Captioning Awareness Week (November 9-15). Sharpe believes “we must do all we can as a sector to continue providing access for those who would otherwise be excluded.”