CaptionCue promises to be truly transformative for arts performance organisations by dramatically reducing the cost of captioning – helping to engage not only those with hearing difficulties but also people for whom English is a second language.
Jon Kingsley, Director of Creative Economy Programmes at Nesta
In 2015, Stagetext, a charity that provides theatre captioning services throughout England, won a grant of nearly £125,000 from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. The fund supports ideas that use digital technology to engage audiences in new ways.
The project was initiated and led by Roger Graham of Digital 4, then Stagetext’s Technical Consultant, who hoped that the technology developed could expand the amount of shows available to deaf and hard of hearing people and improve the accuracy of automatic systems
The grant was awarded to Stagetext to fund the development of the CaptionCue project, to develop a system that would no longer require a person to operate the captioning systems in theatres. Instead, CaptionCue would attempt to use voice recognition software to generate accurate automated captioning.
The idea is to try and output the lines absolutely simultaneously to them being spoken so our client audience can get what is as close as possible to the experience that anyone else gets at the theatre. Right now, it’s quite hard to get that sort of sensitivity without a manual captioner there.
Roger Graham, Digital 4 Ltd
Digital 4 joined with technical partners Screensystems Ltd and Signblazer Ltd to develop the technology which was tested at the National Theatres Temporary Theatre to an audience of deaf, deafened and hard-of hearing theatre-goers.
The NT and ATG joined English Touring Theatre in acting as development partners, offering spaces to allow the technology to be tested.
The National Theatre is delighted to be working with Roger Graham and Stagetext in the development of the CaptionCue system. We share the ambition to make theatre accessible to all, at every performance.
John Langley. Director of External Relationships and Partnerships, National Theatre