Many people who have an acquired hearing loss say they still like to attend the theatre. This section contains some strategies that people have found useful.
1. I always try to book my seats well in advance so that I can get a seat that is good for me to see/hear what is going on.
2. When booking tickets I advise the theatre that I am hard of hearing. I ask what facilities they have to help me and where is the best place for me to sit and I book the appropriate seats. Some theatres have reduced price tickets for disabled people.
3. If seats have not been booked then arrive early in order to get the seat best suited to your needs.
4. I read the play first. I am usually able to borrow it from the local library, though occasionally I have managed to borrow one from the theatre company when the library had no copies. Some theatres produce a synopsis (summary) of the play, but I don’t find these as helpful.
5. If it’s a musical production I like to get the score and lyrics in advance and learn some of the songs.
21.b. Loop Systems and Infrared Systems
1. I always find out before the performance whether the theatre has a loop or infrared system. I find out which one it has.
2. If I want to use the loop system I always check when booking the seats that they are in the right area. Some theatres only seem to have part of the auditorium looped.
3. If the loop system installed by the theatre does not work properly it is possible that there is too much interference from the stage lights, etc and therefore it might be better if the theatre installed an infrared system. (NB. even if the loop system or the infrared system are working perfectly, neither system seems to suit everyone.) (Remember if there is a fault it may be your hearing aid or it may be the system.)
4. If the loop system (or infrared system) works I thank them on my way out of the theatre, but if the systems do not work then I tactfully let them know.
5. If a theatre does not have a loop or infrared system I take it up with the management. After all there are lots of people who need one and it therefore makes good business sense for the theatre to have one.
6. I like to lobby for loops or other systems being installed. (As theatres do need to test out the loop first our local theatre gave out free tickets to allow hearing impaired people to try the loop.)
21.c. Stagetext and captioned performances
STAGETEXT provides captioning for theatres and other arts venues to provide access to live performances for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people. The spoken words are converted into text and appear on a small screen either on the stage or in the auditorium, depending on the venue. Sound effects and off-stage sounds are also included in the text.
Stagetext website: www.stagetext.org
Some theatres do in-house captioning, so their captioned performances may not appear on Stagetext’s website.
1. I look out for Stagetext performances at my local theatres. This is where the dialogue comes up on a screen. I find this system very helpful, but there is usually only one day out of a whole run of a play when Stagetext is used which means I have to be free on that particular day.
2. I’ve found that I can enjoy theatre performances once again by going to the captioned performances. I always make sure when I’m booking that I ask for a seat where the captioning can be seen, because in some theatres there are only a few seats that have a good view of the screen where the captioning comes up.
3. Some theatres have their own captioning equipment so they can do their own captioning rather than use Stagetext.
4. I check on Stagetext’s website and the website of my local theatres to see what’s coming up with captions.