Enjoy live performances with these helpful accommodations.
If you’re a big fan of culture and art, live theater is a goldmine of fun activities. There are plays, musicals, ballets, comedy shows, and more to enjoy.
Many live theater events commonly rely on sound to get their messages across, whether it’s through music or dialogue. People with hearing loss can enjoy these performances with the helpful accommodations available to make sure they catch every moment of the show!
Here are four tips for attending theater performances with hearing loss:
- Ask about accessibility options
- Use assistive listening devices
- Choose closer seats
- Check out the plot in advance
Let’s learn more about each of these tips for attending theater performances with hearing loss!
Ask about accessibility options
Theaters typically offer multiple accommodations for people with hearing loss. Check in with the venue to see what options you have, whether you call or email them ahead of time, ask at the ticket window, or look for a sign that says hearing loss accommodations when you arrive at the theater.
Many theaters offer captioning as one of their accommodations, which allow you to read along with the performance. Captioning ensures theater-goers can enjoy the show no matter their degree of hearing loss or the assistive listening devices available to them.
First, investigate the show you want to see — start by seeing if there are any dates that offer an open-captioned performance. During an open-captioned show, there’s a large screen next to or above the stage, making it easy to read and watch at the same time, like captioned television.
Since not all performances will offer open-captioned dates, especially at small theaters, it’s more likely you’ll find handheld captioning. This could be coordinated via small devices the theater hands out. Or, you may be able to download an app and read along with captions on your smartphone. Broadway shows have this function via the GalaPro app, which uses lighting cues to provide captions in fairly accurate real-time.
Theaters may also offer other accommodations, including loop systems, to help patrons with hearing loss better enjoy the show – we’ll get into those in the next tip!
Use assistive listening devices
Many theaters’ accessibility accommodations include assistive listening devices. Popular options include infrared headsets or FM systems, which theater-goers can use to connect to audio and have the sound piped directly to their devices.
Depending on the exact system, you may be able to connect directly with your hearing aids (if you have a t-coil enabled device). The theater may also provide you with a set of headphones or hearing loop receiver earphones set up to receive their audio. The latter are excellent options for people who don’t use hearing aids.
Choose closer seats
Sitting closer to the stage is an excellent idea for a lot of reasons! First, it puts you right next to the source of the audio. Second, being closer and able to see better lets you feel more integrated into the experience. Depending on how close you are, you may even be able to use lip reading to make it easier to understand the performers’ lines.
Check out the plot in advance
If you’re attending a performance that has a plot, like a play or musical, and you’re worried about following along, consider familiarizing yourself with the plot before you go! This way you will have a general idea of the action and can focus more on enjoying yourself than keeping track of which character is which. Your playbill can also help you out with this, since they’ll typically include a list of the songs, scenes, settings, and characters.
Ultimately, the primary tip to keep in mind is that every performance venue is different — it’s always a good idea to research the theater itself before you buy tickets or attend a show. See if they have an accessibility resources page on their website, which should outline the options and how to arrange them ahead of time. If not, give the theater a call to check! CapTel captioned telephones can help you make these essential calls with hearing loss, and capture every word.