I love attending the theater, so there is no greater honor for Living With Hearing Loss than to sponsor the open captions at two recent Broadway shows presented by Theater Development Fund (TDF) — Hamilton and Miss Saigon. I hope there are many more open captioned performances coming for both shows. And others!
Through its TAP Accessibility Program, TDF supports numerous open captioned performances on and off-Broadway each year. You can find the list of current NYC offerings here. For other US cities click here. Tickets are available through its website for eligible members. You can join for free here. I try to attend as many shows as I can.
I saw my first open captioned performance almost a year ago, and it has changed my life. I always loved the theater — I even dabbled in performing a bit in college — but as my hearing loss progressed, it became harder for me to enjoy seeing shows.
I always worried: Will I be able to follow the dialogue? What if the main characters have accents? What if the assistive listening devices don’t work? Is it worth the expensive ticket price only to be disappointed?
Open captions make all the difference. The caption display is discreetly located to the side of the stage, within easy viewing of TDF’s prime orchestra seats. The captions are set on a slight delay so I can focus on the action on stage, and when I miss a piece of dialogue simply glance to the side to read what I missed. My husband, who has typical hearing, does the same. The captions benefit everyone.
Another bonus of attending open captioned performances is seeing other people with hearing loss enjoying the theater experience. There are always cochlear implants and hearing aids proudly on display. Sometimes the cast will even give a shout out to the section at the end of the show. Most notably, the Hamilton cast clapped back at our section, even using the ASL sign for clapping as there were a number of signers in the audience.
I have become so enamored of open captioned performances, I began seeking them out when I travel too. In London, you can find a list of upcoming open captioned performances here. I hope to see one when I visit with my daughter this summer.
Readers, have you tried an open captioned performance?