Joint Media Release:  Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities & Carers, the Hon. Senator Jan McLucas, and ACT Minister Joy Burch.

World-first Technology Brings Theatre Alive for People with Hearing Impairment

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 14:20

World-first technology will enable people who are deaf or hearing impaired to enjoy live theatre by accessing live captions on their mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas and ACT Minister for the Arts, Joy Burch today helped launch the GoTheatrical! mobile app, developed by Australian company The Captioning Studio, at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

Senator McLucas said this revolutionary technology will complement current captioning displayed on screens at the side of the stage at select venues, giving people with a hearing impairment the same choices as other theatre-goers.

“Enjoying a night out at the theatre is something that many of us don’t think twice about but the fact is there are many Australians who haven’t been able to enjoy this popular past time,” said Senator McLucas.

“This new technology builds on the Australian Government’s commitment to ensuring everyone can participate fully in the community, regardless of ability.

“The Australian Government has already committed to $500,000 to improve access to cinemas for people who are deaf, blind, or visually or hearing impaired, which will see captions and audio description available in 242 screens by the end of 2014.

“We have provided $1 million for playback devices to improve access to print material in a digital format for people with print disability at selected public libraries across the country, with almost 1,259 playback devices (DAISY players and audio navigators) already in selected public libraries.”

The initiative is another step towards reaching the objectives of the National Arts and Disability Strategy agreed to by the Australian, State and Territory Governments.

Ms Burch congratulated The Captioning Studio for developing this cutting-edge technology.

“The Captioning Studio has made a significant contribution to assisting people with hearing impairment,” Ms Burch said.

“In December last year The Captioning Studio won the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2011 Human Rights Business Award for their contribution to inclusion of people with a hearing loss, and in August were presented with the Best Event Captioning in Australia Award at the 2011 National Captioning Awards, hosted by Deafness Forum Australia.

“They have also launched a national campaign to help promote captioning for people with hearing loss as well as the GoTheatrical! Kids initiative for 2012, making live theatre accessible to school children aged Year 3 to 12 who are deaf or hearing impaired.

“All Australians should be proud that we are leading the way in improving access to live theatre for people who are deaf or hearing impaired, and it is wonderful to see this new technology being rolled out here in the ACT.”