Theatre and Dance NI offers a captioning service to increase access to the performing arts for deaf or hard of hearing audience members.

Venues, festivals and production companies within Northern Ireland are able to hire Theatre and Dance NI’s captioning equipment and captioners. Find out more about captioning hire.

Provision of captioning services can also extend to corporate events, meetings, and conferences, enhancing inclusivity and attendee experiences. Captions help all attendees, including those without hearing impairments, to better understand and retain information presented during presentations, speeches, and discussions, leading to increased engagement and understanding.

View upcoming captioned performances in Northern Ireland.

What is Captioning?

Captioning is used by venues to convert performers’ spoken words into visible text displayed on screens close to the stage.

Captions display:

  • The name of the character speaking
  • What is said and when it is said
  • Descriptions of sound effects
  • Musical cues

Captions are prepared in advance and delivered live using a laptop connected to the captioning screens on stage, and operated by a trained captioner.

Why is captioning important?

It presents arts venues and organisations with a valuable resource to encourage audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing to attend events. With almost 300,000 people in Northern Ireland who are deaf or have hearing loss, captioning has led to an increase in deaf or hard of hearing theatregoers, for whom theatre is accessible like never before.

Captioning has another strong application – that of acting as a ‘translator’ for people for whom English is not their first language. In this way, captioning can help to develop increasingly diverse audiences, making performances accessible to more people within Northern Irish communities. Captions provide additional support for attendees who may have difficulty understanding spoken language due to accents, language barriers, or auditory processing issues, ensuring clear communication of important information.

Captioning isn’t just limited to theatre performances – we also provide the service for corporate and other public events, meetings and conferences. You may choose to provide live captions as a way of being inclusive proactively and providing an enhanced experience for all attendees.

More information about captioning can be found on the StageTEXT website.

VocalEyes and StageText also have an online toolkit for Senior Managers, Access Co-ordinators, Technical, Marketing and Front of House staff to explain everything you need to know about captioning and other types of assisted performances.