Theater Captioning -by Arlene

January 23, 2017 Comments Off on Theater Captioning -by Arlene

Hi everyone – this is an oldie but goodie, and it is a great record of history made for captioning. For access and inclusion! For equal communication for so many thousands who need “live event captioning.” Enjoy reading, and we hope all of you find theater captioning in your own areas.

Do you? In fact, one CCAC member right now is advocating strongly and well in his area (a Western state). Much to do. Tell us how CCAC might be able to help.

By Arlene in 2013 – Arlene is a CCAC member too.

Cochlear Implants, hearing loss and more! I carry an interesting perspective: someone who had normal hearing growing up, lost it all slowly as an adult, then regained it with cochlear implants. So I’m deaf, but I can hear -….
And then her blogpost.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CAPTIONING ADVOCACY: Playbill from the first Open Captioned Broadway Performance – 1997!

I was sorting through my papers, and came across a stack of old Playbills.  These weren’t just any old Playbills – they were all from open captioned Broadway shows.  What is distinctive about these Playbills is that the Theatre Development Fund (TDF), which arranged the open captioning of these shows, always had an insert stapled into the Playbill, just under the large advertising centerfold.

I kept all the Playbills of the shows I had seen over the years because they represented a triumph – to be able to attend a Broadway show, without missing a word – a mission that I had spearheaded back in the 1990’s.  Although I hadn’t looked at these Playbills in years – they were stashed away in a box – I knew what was in that stack – the Playbill from the very first Open Captioned Broadway performance – Barrymore, a one-man show starring Christopher Plummer – on Wednesday, September 24, 1997.  And it turned out that I had saved two copies of this Playbill! Here’s what it looked like:

Playbill from the very first Open Captioned Broadway performance.

It turned out that I saved more than just the Playbill – I also saved the ticket stub! And here is the insert from the Playbill, announcing that this is the very first open captioned Broadway performance.

Special Playbill insert announcing the FIRST Open Captioned Broadway performance and the ticket stub – September 24, 1997. Historic!

And here are the insert pages that explain about open captioning, the captioner, TDF, and the audience that benefits from captioning.

Program Notes about Captioning and the Captioner

Program Notes about TDF and the people who helped make this captioned performance happen. Note my name mentioned, recognizing my “advocacy and perseverence”!

This is such a significant find – as it documents a milestone in captioning advocacy and accommodations for people with hearing loss.  And it also represents a dream of my own – to be able to walk through Times Square late at night, carrying a Playbill – a souvenir of a wonderful theater experience – just like everyone else.

Additional documentation:
The New York Times ran an article about this event, entitled “Device Opens the Theatre to the Deaf” , published on September 16, 1997.

My second book, Listening Closely: A Journey to Bilateral Hearing(Charlesbridge/Imagine 2011), contains a brief history of captioned live theatre advocacy, on pages 24-25. Click here to access the Amazon website for the book, and click on the “Look Inside” feature to find the excerpt.

NOTE: Arlene’s blog site is at this link to read more there directly, thanks Arlene!
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