Institute On Disabilities, People's Light And The National Theatre Of Great Britain To Present Smart Caption Glasses

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Institute On Disabilities, People's Light And The National Theatre Of Great Britain To Present Smart Caption Glasses

People with disabilities often encounter significant obstacles to participation in the arts. Now, in collaboration with People's Light and The National Theatre of Great Britain, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is pleased to announce a project that will revolutionize arts accessibility for the deaf and hearing loss communities. Smart Caption Glasses allow people who are Deaf or experience hearing loss to view captions at any performance, from any seat in the theater, thanks to the innovative Open Access Smart Capture technology developed by The National Theatre and Professor Andrew Lambourne.

The Smart Caption Glasses display a synchronized transcript of the play's dialogue and sound from the production directly onto the lenses of the smart glasses (manufactured by Epson). Lightweight and entirely customizable, smart caption glasses provide a radical departure in how open captioning is delivered. Residents in the Greater Philadelphia area will be able to experience the smart caption glasses during the 2019/20 season at People's Light, located in Malvern, Pennsylvania. This project brings the Institute on Disabilities and People's Light one step closer to a common goal of making Philadelphia the most accessible city for the arts in the US.

"We have been developing this ground-breaking technology since 2014, with the aim of transforming access to the arts." said Jonathan Suffolk, Concept Designer and Project Director at The National Theatre. "I'm delighted Temple University and People's Light Theatre share our vision and see the potential smart caption glasses have to enable better audience access for all. The National Theatre leads the way in technical innovation in the theatre sector and we look forward to collaborating with Temple University and People's Light to bring the Smart Caption Glasses to audiences in Pennsylvania."

This work is an extension of the Institute's mission to create a society where all people are valued and respected and included. In Pennsylvania alone, 1.1 million residents experience hearing loss, representing 8.58% of the Commonwealth's population. Most theaters only offer a handful of open captioned performances during the run of any given show (if captioning is available at all). Smart Caption Glasses make it possible for all performances to be captioned. People who are Deaf or experience hearing loss can attend any performance they like, in the company of their families and friends.

Too often, people with disabilities encounter significant obstacles to participation in the arts," said Celia S Feinstein, Executive Director, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. With a reputation for innovation, and holding inclusive communities as its core value, the Institute on Disabilities is thrilled to lead this highly collaborative venture. We believe our partnership with People's Light and The National Theatre of Great Britain will serve as a model for best practice for arts accessibility locally and nationally.

Smart Caption Glasses will be piloted from October 1 - October 13, during the People's Light production of Dot and will be available to the general public in January, during the theatre's production of The Children. "As a gathering center for cultural and civic exchange, People's Light prioritizes meaningful inclusion and equitable arts experiences for all." said Abigail Adams, Executive Artistic Director, People's Light. "The smart caption glasses solution is urgently needed for our visitors, and across the field. To create a Theatre that welcomes all and excludes none is no longer a lofty aspiration, it has become the daily work of People's Light."

Starting in January, Smart Caption Glasses will be free to patrons and can be reserved online in advance of the show. Patrons can request smart caption glasses on the same day as the performance, subject to availability. "It will be so exciting for theatergoers with hearing loss to again enjoy the many venues that they had to give up years before." said Alan Kutner, President of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)-Delaware County Chapter of Pennsylvania. "The upgrading of devices to help those who are hard of hearing has been a revolution in recent times. It is so exciting to be alive and witness this dramatic progress!"



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