Nearly half of people (43%) questioned for a recent survey believe captioning is valuable while almost a third (28%) suggest venues that offer this service deserve more funding from grant giving organisations and the government.
Two-thirds (67%) of just over 2,000 people surveyed for charity Stagetext said they sometimes find it difficult to hear what is happening when watching TV or live performances.
Following a surge in the use of captions as performances shifted online, 24% of the general public now have captions switched on all the time at home and a further 26% have them on some of the time.
More than one in ten (12%) of people who don’t have English as their first language also have captions on to help with their understanding of what they are watching.
The data, released at the start of Captioning Awareness Week, reveals that since lockdown nearly half of people surveyed (46%) say that the number of captioned performances and events is not enough, with 77% saying they are in favour of venues offering more captioned performances.
If more captioning was offered by live venues, a third (31%) of the general public would be more likely to increase their attendance at live shows. This includes people who would be more likely to take friends or relatives who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing to an event (16%), more likely to go to events themselves (15%) or more likely to arrange a visit for the whole family to a show (14%).
And the public are also more likely to back venues offering such a service with almost half (43%) describing such a service as valuable and almost a third (28%) suggesting these venues deserve more funding from grant giving organisations and the government.
Almost a quarter (21%) felt that it should be a legal requirement for venues to make captions or subtitles available, although among those who are not deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, one in five (20%) found the captions distracting.
Captioning Awareness Week is an annual campaign to celebrate museums, theatres, galleries, and artists that have been providing captions for their audiences, and is organised by Stagetext.
Daniel Jillings, 15, who is deaf and relies on captions and subtitles, said:
“Because of captions, I could enjoy lots of the theatre shows that were streamed online during lockdown. Now that theatres are opening again, it’s important that providing captions for shows continues. Deaf people like me need captions to access live shows in theatres, so we can understand what is happening on stage. I am studying GCSE drama, so it is crucial for me to be able to access theatres, and captions enable this to happen. If access is ignored, then theatres will lose customers, especially deaf people and the friends and family who normally visit with them.”
Melanie Shape, CEO of Stagetext, commented:
“We always knew more people use captions than declared needing them, but we are astounded at the scale of use following lockdown. These figures prove the demand for captions and that for millions of people, they are a lifeline. Every one of us knows someone who has the TV on that little bit too loud and would benefit from turning on the subtitles.
“At a live event you can’t adjust the volume and the stress of not following a plot, muffled dialogue and off-stage distraction can put people off attending amazing performances. Having captions at live events ensures the whole family can enjoy a live performance.”
Earlier this year, research from SubText Digital revealed that many young people used subtitles regularly and that more than half of 18-34 year olds would be more likely to donate to a charity that used subtitles in its advertising.