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Leeds Playhouse first regional theatre to use smart caption glasses

Open Access Smart Capture's glasses will enable D/deaf to read live captioning during a performance.

Smart caption glasses developed and trialled at the National Theatre for hearing-impaired audiences are being rolled out across the UK, with Leeds Playhouse the first regional theatre to use the technology.

The glasses are aimed at D/deaf audiences, and offer personal captioning – flashing the production’s dialogue in front of the wearer’s eyes as the actors say it.

They were developed by the NT with Leeds Beckett University professor Andrew Lambourne, and were unveiled by the NT in 2017, before being introduced in 2018.

National Theatre launches ‘transformational’ captioning glasses for deaf audiences [1]

Now, the Leeds Playhouse will begin an audience trial of the glasses.

Executive director Robin Hawkes said: “It is brilliant to be the first theatre to work in partnership with the National Theatre on trialling these groundbreaking glasses with our audiences. At Leeds Playhouse we are continually exploring innovative ways to make theatre and performance more accessible. I look forward to seeing the impact these glasses will have.”

National Theatre executive director Lisa Burger described the development of the smart caption glasses as “an important step towards giving people a better service”.

“Since we launched the smart caption glasses in October 2018 we’ve seen more than 300 people use them so far and more than 10% of these visitors hadn’t previously been to the National Theatre. It is wonderful to be able to trial these glasses in other theatres, as it was always our aim for as many audience members as possible to benefit from this revolutionary new service,” she added.

Specs appeal: how caption glasses could ‘transform’ theatre [2]