Open Captions On Broadway!

I love attending the theater, but with hearing loss it can be challenging. The dialogue moves quickly, performers sometimes speak in heavy accents, and the phrasing of the songs can make it hard to understand what is being said. What a dream it would be if the performances were captioned. Well, it turns out some of them are!

Last week, I attended my first open captioned performance on Broadway. It was wonderful! The show, Tuck Everlasting, was a fun musical set in a magical woods outside a provincial town. It dealt with life and death, and asked the question, “Would you want to live forever?” The dialogue was fun, the sets beautiful, and the 11-year old star a dynamo. And the captions were a huge help. I even saw my husband (no hearing loss) glancing over a few times to pick up a line of dialogue or two that he missed.

 

The captions were sponsored by Theater Development Fund (TDF), a non-profit organization based in New York City which, according to its website, “has been working to encourage and enable diverse audiences to attend live theater and dance productions” since 1968. This includes sponsoring open captioned performances on Broadway like the one I attended, but also audio described performance for the blind, sign language interpreted shows, and autism-friendly performances. Tickets are offered through its website for members who demonstrate eligibility. You can join for free here.

As you can see from the photo, the captions were set up discretely in one corner of the theater, making it quite easy for me to see them from where I was seated in the prime orchestra section set aside for the TDF Accessibility Program (TAP) tickets. The service is open to everyone seated in this section, without the need for any special equipment or headsets. This makes the open captions a form of passive assistance, meaning that it can be used by all people, regardless of their age or ability. It also makes it very easy to attend the theater with a group of people with mixed degrees of hearing. The captions are there if you need them, but are easily ignored if you don’t.

The open captions were set up on a slight delay so that if you missed something in the dialogue or song, you had the opportunity to quickly slide your eyes to the side to check the captions. I utilized that feature a number of times, particularly during the musical numbers. This helped me to laugh along with the audience at many crucial moments. It was a huge success. I plan to attend another open captioned performance very soon.

You can check for an open captioned performance outside of NYC by clicking here.

Readers, have you attended an open captioned theater performance?

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46 thoughts on “Open Captions On Broadway!”

  1. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Berger's Blather says:

    OMG, I had no idea. How does one find out which Broadway shows have this? Is it only through TDF?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      I have only seen it through TDF. It really is great!

      1. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
        Berger's Blather says:

        Opens up a whole new world! Now to get this thing promoted all around….

      2. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
        Living With Hearing Loss says:

        Absolutely!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      It is! Thanks for your comment.

  2. gaustin00 – Texas – What is your passion? Where does God lead you when you pray? Do you know how to discern the voice of the Lord? https://www.facebook.com/bible.org http://sonshinesjournal.com/
    gaustin00 says:

    Exceptional! Am so glad you were able to enjoy the theater which I find very difficult. If more theaters would do this what a wonder it would be! More patrons like me would attend. Like you I find that captioning on the TV is very helpful and without it I am lost. So happy you had such a positive experience! Wonder how we can get the theaters to embrace this? I suppose just asking might be a first step right?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Yes. I think the more we ask for it, the more likely others will get in on the act. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Looping is also a wonderful way to enjoy the theater! A few Broadway theaters are looped in NYC, but the vast majority are not yet looped. So glad it is widely available in your area.

  3. I have been attending closed captioned performances in NYC for a couple years and they are great. Also most of the Broadway theaters also have devices that work with the telecoils in hearing aids and bring the sound directly to your hearing aids. You need to make sure you request the correct headset. There are a limited number of closed captioned performances – using the headset you can go to any performance.

    1. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
      Berger's Blather says:

      Can you clarify this? I used the independent headsets at a couple of Broadway shows and I wasn’t thrilled with them. Are you saying these connect with my hearing aids? I needed to take them out in order to use the headset.

      1. I think the term is induction loop. There are a couple different models they can provide. There is a neckloop that you put around your neck and this connects wirelessly to the telecoil in your hearing aids. It’s the same sound as when you switch to the telecoil for a phone conversation. I wear BTE hearing aids, so if there is any problem with the transmission, I can hang the headset so it is on top of the microphone for my hearing aids – sound is not as good but it works….
        I always contact whatever venue I’m going to before I go – I want to make sure they know I’m hearing impaired and I need assistance. I’ve found that most places are extremely helpful and anxious to help you.

    2. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Yes! Thank you for pointing out these other good options.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      It is a great thing!

  4. We have attended many Broadway shows that were captioned. Besides the benefits of not missing anything, you get wonderful seats right near the stage at huge discounts.
    There are many local theaters offering captions also. Contact Hearing Loss Association to get information

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thanks for your comment Gail!

  5. I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying the open captioned performances arranged by TDF. I innovated open captioned live theater back in 1996 at Paper Mill Playhouse in NJ, and with TDF in 1997.
    I’ve blogged about the history of it here –
    http://arleneromoff.blogspot.com/2013/06/captioning-advocacy-playbill-from-first.html

    TDF also runs OC incentive programs for regional theaters, and many performing arts centers and regional theaters across the country now also provide OC performances.
    We brought OC to London in 2000, and the Brits started Stagetext soon after -http://www.stagetext.org/
    providing OC to theaters in the UK. And there’s also OC live theater in Australia!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Great information! Thank you for sharing and the work you are doing for people with hearing loss!

  6. ls – Read the CCAC website also, with lots of great information, articles, resources, links and more. Join CCAC membership and have access to the members' forum online. CCAC is an advocacy group. http://CCACaptioning.org CCACAPTIONING.ORG is all volunteers. Grass-roots project initiated December 2009. The mission is one theme - inclusion of quality captioning universally. Members are individuals, groups, hearing or not, deaf or not. There are so many places where captions are needed still, for millions. Building bridges among members of so many different groups (e.g. groups for deafness, others). Join soon. United we can do this! Lauren, Founder of the CCAC email: ccacaptioning@gmail.com
    ls says:

    Reblogged this on CCAC Blog and commented:
    Happy to re-blog her new experience with live theater captioning – oh yes – ask for it folks – never give up – CCAC will advocate with you.
    CCACaptioning.org – the Place 2 B 4 Captioning Advocacy
    All media and Live Events also – quality captioning is the world’s language

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      It is great! Thanks for spreading the word.

  7. This seems like a wonderful low impact support to offer all theatre goers.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      I agree!

  8. Ellen Dolgen – United States – Ellen Dolgen is a Health and Wellness Advocate, Menopause Awareness Expert, Author, Speaker, and health blogger.  Ellen is the author of Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness -- a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause that's filled with crucial information, helpful guides, and hilarious and heartfelt stories. Known for her humor, compassion, and sassy personality, Ellen has appeared on numerous television and radio broadcasts, including: The Rachael Ray Show, The Doctors, Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, "Tell Me More" on NPR, Doctor Radio, and dozens of other regional and national media outlets. Ellen has been a frequent guest on the popular radio show, "Broadminded," on Sirius XM Radio (Stars XM 107) and is a regular contributor on Huff/Post 50 along with blogging for many leading women's health sites. Ellen has dedicated herself to women's wellness through a wide breadth of activities ranging from working with pharmaceutical companies in helping them to effectively address women's health needs, serving on hospital advisory boards and advocating for cardiovascular health. Ellen's motto is: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!
    Ellen Dolgen says:

    All shows should have this! EVERYONE should be able to enjoy the theatre.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thanks Ellen!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thanks Carol! The captions really make a huge difference.

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