Leeds Playhouse to trial text-displaying glasses for audiences with hearing impairments

Picture supplied by Leeds Playhouse.
Picture supplied by Leeds Playhouse.

Leeds Playhouse will trial pioneering high-tech glasses that display text as words are spoken or sung on stage for audiences with hearing impairments.

Audience members attending performances of Around the World in 80 Days between April 16 to 28 will be able to use the caption glasses in its pop-up theatre.

Leeds Beckett University Professor Andrew Lambourne collaborated with the National Theatre and Accenture on the development of the system to transmit captions on to the glasses.

They respond to the voices of the performers and display the text as it is spoken or sung on stage including descriptions of music and sound effects.

Accenture and the National Theatre developed the service using glasses designed and manufactured by Epson.

Leeds Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes said: “It is brilliant to be the first theatre to work in partnership with the National Theatre on trialling these ground-breaking glasses with our audiences here in the Leeds City Region.

"We are really proud key technology was researched and developed by a staffer at Leeds Beckett University.

"At Leeds Playhouse we are continually exploring innovative ways to make theatre and performance more accessible. I look forward to seeing the impact these glasses will have.”

Leeds Beckett University Professor Andrew Lambourne said: “The great thing about this system is that it can follow what the actors are saying and automatically put the caption out in time with the dialogue, which means it’s feasible to offer access to every performance.

"And because users can look through the glasses at whatever piece of the action they like and still see captions floating in space in front of them, it’s a far more immersive experience than looking at a screen to the side of the stage.”

Book tickets for Around the World in 80 Days online at www.leedsplayhouse.org.uk