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NT’s Smart Caption Glasses (Your News)

NT’s Smart Caption Glasses (Your News)

National Theatre’s Smart Caption Glasses piloted at BFI for January’s London Short Film Festival.

London Short Film Festival 2020 hosts cinema’s first UK pilot of the National Theatre’s innovative smart caption glasses system for cinemagoers for D/deaf, deafened or hard of hearing audiences.
Launched in 2018 by the National Theatre, following a year of testing with audiences who are D/deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, the smart caption glasses have been in use for 80% of its performances on the South Bank.

The glasses display a synchronised transcript of dialogue and sound directly onto the lenses of the glasses, giving service users the freedom to experience captions how and when they want to. Accenture and the NT developed the service using Moverio BT-350 smart glasses, which are designed and manufactured by Epson specifically with arts and culture applications in mind.

Including work from Peter Strickland (In Fabric), a poignant turn from Maxine Peake (Funny Cow) and the directorial debut of Lena Headey, the London Short Film Festival UK Competition selection presented compelling storytelling from established and emerging British directors across four screenings in January in NFT1 at BFI Southbank.

With eleven million people living with hearing loss across the UK (around one in six of the population) LSFF has been hosting annual screenings in London and across the UK for underserved Deaf and hard of hearing audiences for the past three years, curated by LSFF’s Deaf programmer Zoe McWhinney.

Over the last decade, the UK cinema sector, with the support of the UK Cinema Association, has worked hard to meet the needs of deaf and hearing-impaired audiences, increasing the number of subtitled screenings significantly. There are now over 1,500 subtitled screenings in UK cinemas every week. But the delivery of such ‘open caption’ shows, where the subtitles are visible to audience members whether they need them or not, remains a challenge, particularly for smaller cinema operators.


Photo: Cameron Slater