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Interpretation for the Deaf

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by icewolf08, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    We happily provide ASL interpreters for any performance if requested by a patron (we have to, and so do you [if you are in the USA]). What I was wondering is if there are any types of wireless subtitle devices like we have assisted listening devices. If there aren't we should totally invent some.

    Why do I ask? First off, finances. It costs the theatre $1K to have a pair of ASL interpreters come for one performance. If only one or two patrons request the interpreters, we only take in about $100 for their seats. As I said, we are happy to provide this service, and facilitating it is much easier since we are on a university campus. However, we always struggle with how to facilitate this service without detracting from the experience for the rest of the patrons and distracting the actors.

    So, I know that places like the Metropolitan Opera have individual seatback subtitle devices that can only be seen by the person sitting directly behind the device. So, is there a system on the market that can do this wirelessly? Having an easily deployable wireless system would allow us to accept any patron at any time, no advance notice would be required to book interpreters, not to mention the cost savings.

    If you know of an existing system, I would love a link or info. If you think we could invent one, that would be cool too!
  2. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member

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    For your enjoyment, Jeff Dunham talking about a performance for the deaf.
    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwyOyS3rwSc[/media]

    Seriously, I was working at a roadhouse on a university campus and for the Broadway tours, the ASL show was always the Saturday matinee. We would place the interpreters on apple boxes DSL with the audience directly behind them. It was relatively easy to light them without detracting from the show. Of couse we also provided IR headsets for the hard of hearing. Problem was, Sennheiser must not have thought that the headsets make great wishbones because I had to fix about a dozen a night.

    Warning: video not edited for TV (one use of F word if you are so offended)
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Are you sure about this? I don't think I've ever heard of a provision in the ADA requiring a theatre to provide a person to whisper descriptions of the scenery or stage action into the ear of a [-]blind[/-] visually-challenged person. The law says "fair and reasonable accommodations", does it not?

    I've heard of theatres providing ONE performance of a production for the hearing-impaired, but never an "on-demand" policy.
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Our "on demand" policy is what I have been told by our management. It may not be required by law, but I was told by management that we can't say no if a patron requests an interpreter. Thus my looking into a more easily deployable on-demand system. If we have to provide assisted listening devices why not a caption device?
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    This begs the question of the evening (that sparked my intrigue in the subject). Wouldn't a deaf patron miss the point/comedy in 90% of "My Fair Lady" as the show is all about the language?
  6. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member

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    Not only that, but what about comic timing?
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    How about a laptop with PowerPoint slides of the script? If it the slides had entrances and exits, one wouldn't get too far off.

    edit: Forget the laptop. Other than copyright issues, why not just print a simplified version of the script. Does your theatre provide braille copies of the program for the blind?

    This reminds me a little of the "wheelchair seats" thread. An interpreter must be pre-arranged in advance, right? What's the difference between a deaf person buying ticket 30 minutes before curtain, and a wheelchair patron showing up with no notice?
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I believe Derek is correct about the "reasonable" aspect of hearing impaired interpretation. We don't offer a signed presentation. We could, I suppose, but I believe I'd be more inclined to offer scripts or Super Titles. We have had, in the past, different shows in which a lot of memebers of the deaf community expressed interest, for those we usually put together one or two performances specifically in mind with having interpreters present.

    < I have pictures of Garret Morris screaming in a little window at the bottom of my TV screen, in my mind all of a sudden.>
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I don't disagree that we may go above and beyond, I just wonder if there was a way that we could offer this service.
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    First off I bet your requirement to provide services has something to do with your ties to the University. We are also required but the services are provided by a department at the college. SO, my first suggestion is to try to work that connection with the University and see if there is a way to get interpreters through a program on campus and save you some money.

    Now as for a really cool high tech/low tech solution. Here in Seattle we have one of the last Cinemascope theaters. The Cinerama was built in the 60's and was about to be demolished in the 90's when Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen purchased and restored it. It's now one of the most technically cool theaters in the country to watch a movie. They still have the Cinemascope screen and projector. They also have the latest high def digital projection and a "small screen" that sits in front of the Cinemascope screen (the "Small screen" is still the largest screen in town). A couple times a year they get out "How the west was won" and other classics. Anyway, they have a really cool subtitle system. In the back of the theater, above the projection booth is an LED reader board that scrolls the text of the subtitles in backwards letters. A deaf person is given a mirror on a gooseneck, with a base that snaps into the cup holder. You sit down, install your mirror on your seat, put it in a comfortable position and angle it to reflect the subtitles at you. Genius... and something you just might be able to build yourself.
  11. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    SNL Transcripts: Rob Reiner: 10/25/75: Weekend Update with Chevy Chase

    [​IMG]

    Chevy Chase: And now, as a public service to those of our viewers who have difficulty with their hearing, I will repeat the top story of the day, aided by the Headmaster of the New York School for the Hard-of-Hearing - Mr. Garrett Morris.

    [ Garrett appears in an oval over Chevy's right shoulder ]

    Chevy Chase: Our top story tonight --

    Garrett Morris: [ cups his hands and yells ] OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT!!!

    Chevy Chase: President Ford is finally over that stubborn week-long cold.

    Garrett Morris: PRESIDENT FORD IS FINALLY OVER THAT STUBBORN WEEK-LONG COLD!!!

    [ Garrett disappears ]

    Chevy Chase: [ smiles ] Well, that's the news tonight. I'm Chevy Chase. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.


    Kids today will never know what they missed.;)
  12. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    Or R.J. Gumby

    I have nothing constructive to add to this thread.
  13. GallyTD

    GallyTD New Member

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    The ADA stipulates that accommodation must be provided in the event that it does not cause an "undue burden" to the company. Recently FedEx field in DC was sued by Deaf consumers who requested captioning for music and announcements for NFL games, and they won.

    The question is- at what size (that is, revenue wise) does it cease to be an "undue burden" to provide accessibility services, such as open captioning (yes, they do it for theatre- we have an open captioning board at Gallaudet), interpretation (either voice or sign), or audio description for the blind.

    I don't have the answer to *that* question- there are lawyers who handle such things.

    Many theatres offer a limited run of interpreted performances, while others have the "as requested" policy.

    I'm a techie and also an interpreter, so if you have more questions... ask :)
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  14. GallyTD

    GallyTD New Member

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    This is called "rear window captioning" and is available in some movie theatres. At first it sounds like a great solution, but there are several hurdles

    1- In most cases, the plexiglass reflector cannot be placed in such a way that it conveniently overlays the captioning over the picture or performance, thus requiring the patron to look back and forth for the entire production or film.
    2- Typically there are a limited number of reflectors- so if you get a group of say 15 Deaf people who want to go see a movie together, and they only have 5 reflectors- what do you do? Its happened before (to me, with friends in fact).

    My sense from being involved in the Deaf community (Gallaudet is the nations only Deaf University) is that rear window captioning (RWC) is not the favored access means.
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Gally brings up a good point. Why not have a highly publicized set of nights that interpretation is provided. If you publicize it well enough in the right places, you might find a lot of your deaf community come out to see your shows that never came before. I think this would also meet any requirements for providing access.

    Gally, if they publicized 4 nights during the run will be interpreted, would they be required to provide interpreters to a single person on another night? Couldn't they argue that they are providing access on these specific nights (as long as there are several performances on different days throught the length of the run). It's an "undue burden" to keep providing interpreters to one individual on a show by show basis. What do you think?
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  16. Raktor

    Raktor Member

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    From the latest newsletter from one of the companies I'm involved with.
  17. Jfisher2008

    Jfisher2008 New Member

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    yes gaff. if you look at Seattle Children's Theatre in Seattle, WA. i used to work there.

    they do provide specific performance dates that will be interpreted, normally its on Opening night, weekday performance (if provide school performance dates), and one saturday matinee date.

    in Seattle Area, there is a strong deaf Community that attends perforamnces in ahead if it adverise well ahead in time and adverise in local Deaf newsletter, daily digest emails, etc etc.

    asGallyTD said, at gallaudet we do provide interpreting service for Deaf-blind, limited vision customers, but those are provided by the GIS (Gallaudet Interpreting Service), and again it depends on our Directors to do Voicing, open-caption, or what other access device we have. ( we do own a open caption board.)


    Gaff. normally a Deaf person will be looking for specific term "interpreted performance" or the like, that will attract them to the venue that is providing the service on a regular basis. if its like once in a blue moon... the community would be overlook the venue itself.


    as for RWC (rear window captioning). for me, being a deaf person... i do not like RWC at all... its ok for movie but for theatre?... where would you attach the mirror piece? placement of the caption itself makes a big different.

    suppose a deaf person seats.. house left 4th row, and the caption board is set in 2nd floor balcony, to that person the caption would be the size of font 8.... again it depends on where you put the board, and how the deaf person is seated. (open seating or assigned seating? )


    as for the cost of the interpreter. icewolf said about 1k per pair. that is the most faired priced PER Performance night. one thing you could do is make a contract with the interpreters that they do.. umm.. lets say that you do 6 production in one season and you do provide interpreted dates for all ( Saturday matiee ) thats 6 dates, plus Rehearsal times for the Interpreter to sit in to get the feel of the speed, accent, style, over all of the production, (2 weeks is enough time before the interpreted dates) to give them the best way to interpre the lines, sounds ( if needed) to the Deaf Community.
    all that i mentioned would be in the contract to the interpreters for the Season. 2k-4k per person. instead of paying 1k per pair EVERY time.... thats my two cent.
  18. Jfisher2008

    Jfisher2008 New Member

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    thats nice.... altho most deaf community would dislike the term "hearing impaired"... but thats totally different post to discuss... same idea as Technician vs Techie

    anyhoo.... (goes back to reading the forums)
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    We've been trying to set up a well publicized series of interpreted performances here at the college. Unfortunately there's been a bunch of other stuff going on that's sort of distracted us from working on it. But it's definitely something we want to do. It seems like both a great way to provide a service to our community and develop a loyal audience base.
  20. HCP1

    HCP1 New Member

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    Check out terptheatre.org. I saw them shadow interpret "To Kill A Mockingbird" recently. Not only was it fascinating for me as a hearing person, but the theatre was full of patrons who were deaf. I did not find that it distracted from the "regular" performance and one of the actors told me that they did some of their best performances while being interpreted because they were so alert.

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