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More training in captioning needed?

Seen an opera lately and read those projected surtitles which tell you, in your own language, what’s going on? Many of us have been at, or taken part in, shows which are audio-described, signed and more recently captioned to make them more accessible too. So why isn’t the management and development of these services a routine part of technical training?

Rob Young - 20 years on the road after graduating from LAMDA and now director of the course which trained him - has always regarded this as a vital part of theatre. When he was appointed Director of LAMDA’s Stage Management and Technical Theatre course he hoped to have a chance to promote these services, but he has met many technicians and stage managers who are less than enthusiastic about it. He wants his students to understand how they might be required to service accessible performances, and how they could be proactive about them.

So he started talking to Tabitha Allum, Chief Executive of Stagetext about devising training for LAMDA’s techie students. Young’s concern was to cover the technicalities as well as making student understand what forms of access are available for disabled people and why it matters.

The result was a rather innovative pilot seminar in collaboration with Stagetext and Vocaleyes. It included introductions to the concepts of captioning and audio-description and testimonials from individuals with sight and hearing infringements as to how they can benefit. The mini-course also introduced students to the kit involved, its rigging and the systems used and gave them a bit of experience of listening to audio description, seeing captioning in action and so on.

Young wants to develop this training with both companies. He would like to extend it to involve LAMDA’s acting students as well. His ultimate aim is for no student to leave LAMDA without having some understanding of the importance of this sort of access and having experienced it from the perspective of both the actor/technician and the audience member.

Very worthy stuff. Are other drama schools doing something similar? If not, why not? Your views please.

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