Searching For Open Captions On The Road

I recently read an article stating that NYC is the most accessible city in the United States for people with hearing loss, and that may be true, but every time I travel to London, I am blown away by the level of hearing access. Whether it is the ubiquitous looped taxis, the hearing loops at every museum counter and information booth or the variety of open captioned performances available, I see hearing loss access everywhere I go. Even my London Walks guide asked if anyone had trouble hearing him to please move to the front of the group or wave a hand at him to let him know. I did so with pleasure.

Living With Hearing Loss

During my most recent visit to London, I was lucky to attend two open captioned performances — in the same week! One was at the National Theater  (Sunset at the Villa Thalia) and one at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater (The Taming of the Shrew). Both would have been a non-starter for me without the captions given the actors’ accents and the complexity of the productions. The accommodation helped me to thoroughly enjoy both shows.

Coming from the U.S., I was not sure I would be eligible for the hearing access / open captions program in the U.K., but it was not an issue. I easily found the access form online (each theater had a different one), filled it out and emailed it in. Once the theater confirmed receipt, I was able to call to book and pay for my tickets in the open captioned area. I had wonderful seats with a clear view of the stage and the captions — and the tickets were even discounted!

The National Theater also emailed me a detailed synopsis of the show the day before the performance. I didn’t read it because I wanted to be surprised by the story, but it was useful afterwards to fill in any small details I might have missed.

Interestingly, when I asked the concierge at my hotel if he was aware of any open captioned performances available for the week I was visiting, he didn’t know what I was asking. This is a shame since I imagine many visitors to the hotel could have benefited from these types of performances. It goes to show how much education about hearing loss is still required everywhere.

If you plan to visit London, follow this link to find a list of upcoming open captioned performances. In New York City, check out Theater Development Fund’s TAP program to find open captioned performances. I recently attended two such performances on Broadway and enjoyed them both.

Readers, do you seek out open captioned performances when you travel?

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11 thoughts on “Searching For Open Captions On The Road

  1. We are going to Spain the end of the month. Have no idea what is available there. We will be on an escorted tour. I asked about accommodations from the tour operator and they said they have individual headsets for the tours. Have never used them before so I’m not sure how that will work out.

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    • Individual headsets should mean that the tour guide uses an FM system. The tour guide will have a bodypack transmitter which will send a wireless signal to your personal receiver that the tour company will provide you with. This receiver will come with headphones for your to wear. If this is the case, you will “hear” better than anyone else in the group NOT using the system.

      Also, if your hearing aids have a manual T-Coil and you have your own person neckloop; bring the neckloop with you as you may find that you can plug the neckloop into the receiver the tour company provides you with.

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      • Thanks – didn’t think to bring my neckloop. I’ll definitely do that.
        Not sure what you mean by the first paragraph. My hearing loss is too severe to use a headset without my aids. And sometimes you get feedback from using headphones with hearing aids.

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  2. Just returned from trip to Cape Cod. Arranged in advance for Holiday Inn Hyannis to provide smoke detector, vibrating alarm clock and door knocker for my room. Our tour guide for 4 days always made an effort to face me when talking. JFKennedy Museum provided print transcript of their video and Cape Cod Canal Museum put their captioned video on at my request.
    We need to ask wherever we go to make places aware of the need for these services.

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