The National Theatre (United Kingdom) has unveiled new technology that will enable D/deaf audiences to see captions for performances in front of their eyes using special glasses.
The move, announced today (10/3/17), could transform the theatre experience for D/deaf and hard of hearing audiences, the NT has said.
The glasses will enable D/deaf and hard of hearing audiences to read live captioning on the lenses during a performance, removing the need for captioning screens in the auditorium.
NT director Rufus Norris said the glasses mean that for the first time, D/deaf audiences will be able to attend any performance during a production’s run, rather then rely on the limited number of captioned performances – up to four per show – that are currently scheduled.
Developed by the NT with its innovation partner, consultancy firm Accenture, Open Access Smart Capture is being introduced during a year-long pilot.
If it is a success, the result would be “transformational”, Norris said.
“If you think about it for even a minute you can understand that if we can get this right and develop this type of technology, the possibilities in terms of broadening our audience and really serving the people of this country are pretty fantastic,” he said.
The glasses boast 97% accuracy in the timing of the captions, and can also facilitate audio description, for audiences with restricted vision.