Target Audience

Who’s it for?

The primary target audience for captioning is deaf people.

What does ‘deaf’ mean?

The term deaf can be used to cover a range of people with a very broad range of hearing levels. Generally they are broken down into 3 groups:

  • Deaf people
  • Hard of hearing people
  • Deafened people

Caption users can fall into any one of these categories and each individual may have a different perspective.

Try this …

Click on the clips below to see some examples of how deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people may describe themselves:

Alan is a British Sign Language (BSL) user. He describes how captioning can make the theatre more inclusive.

Photo of alan and quote "I was profoundly deaf - I was born deaf."

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Sarah talks about using both BSL and English.

Photo of Sarah and quote "Well, I'm deaf, but not with a capital 'D'"

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Tim talks about being profoundly deaf and how his cochlear implant means he can now hear some sound.

Photo of Tim and quote "I was profoundly deaf - didn't hear anything."

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David discusses the 3 main definitions.

Photo of David and quote "There's so many different types of hearing losses."

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Suzanne talks about losing her hearing.

Photo of Suzanne and quote "...even I forget I can't hear."

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You can find out more about these definitions and the different terminology used in the LANGUAGE section.

What patrons say …

  • “I am deaf and I love musicals.”
  • “I don’t consider myself to be disabled.”
  • “Just because it’s captioned doesn’t mean I’ll want to come and see it – it may not be my cup of tea.”

Deaf and disabled people are just as diverse as any other market sector so all they may have in common is their impairment. That’s not an effective way to target them because they have different needs and concerns.

Many, particularly older people, don’t think of themselves as disabled so they ignore or reject messages about disability or access. A member of the public who is new to hearing loss, who may have been a regular theatregoer but who has been finding it increasingly difficult to enjoy the experience, is unlikely to pick up a leaflet about services for deaf and disabled people, and they will have little to no personal relationship with terms like “accessible” or “assisted performances”.

What you can do …

  • Focus on how patrons see themselves: their preferences, outlook and beliefs.
  • Consider their attitudes to the arts generally and to your organisation.
  • Highlight your captioned performances to everyone, not just those who identify themselves as being deaf.

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