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Captioning Awareness Week; Live subtitles really do matter

Taking into account that 1 in 5 people (18%) in the UK have some degree of hearing loss, it's easy to understand that captioned performances are essential for the 11 million who want to enjoy the arts like anyone else; they open up a whole new world of access!

Despite an increase in demand for online performances, access remains patchy.

According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), 87% of people with hearing loss have attempted to watch a programme on-demand and found it had no subtitles. Why?


This week is Captioning Awareness Week (14th to 20th November 2022), hosted by Stagetext.

This annual celebration aims to recognise the great work that theatres, museums and galleries are doing across the country to make the arts a more welcoming and accessible place, and to raise awareness about the importance of captioning, particularly within the deaf and hard of hearing community.


Captions are similar to television subtitles, but with the actors’ words appearing on screens placed in the set (or the side of the stage) at the same time as they are spoken or sung.

"There are two types of captions; open and closed:

Open captions

When open captions are on a screen, everyone can see them and there is no way to turn them off. This is seen at subtitle screenings in cinemas/movie theatres.

Another type of open caption is a Live Speech caption. The Text Reporter/Palantypist/Captioner types live dialogue in a meeting, presentation or speech. The captions are projected onto a screen.

Closed captions

Closed captions are controlled by the user, who can turn them on/off (usually with the CC button). There is often an option to switch languages too.

A key example is when watching Television, or on YouTube. If the YouTuber provides proper closed captions for their viewers, it will show up as a language. If not, there will be ‘auto-captions’; these are operated by voice recognition and aren’t accurate.

Closed captions are also on social media channels. Also, Subtitle Glasses which have been introduced in some theatres are closed captioned, as only the viewer wearing the glasses can see the captions."


Best Practices

To get involved you can:


Over 20% of all BBC iPlayer viewers always use subtitles.

Also, 80% of social users watch videos with the sound off. That means that if you don't caption your videos, you are excluding 1 in 5 people nationally, and 466 million people in the world, from watching it.⁠

We want to encourage to always caption your content and make it accessible to millions of people who would love to see it.⁠.⁠

Thank you💜⁠

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