Welcome to The Hear Me Out [CC] Podcast, an audio show (with transcripts included) where we listen to stories from fascinating individuals in and around the d/Deaf community and from your host, yours truly, Ahmed Khalifa.
It’s not a surprise that going to the theatres, art galleries, museums and other similar events are challenge for those who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing. But thankfully, there are companies like Stagetext who provides live captioning for anyone who wants to experience arts and culture like theatre, art gallery and other live events.
CEO Melanie Sharpe explains why it’s important for arts to be accessible and what can the arts industry do better to make sure that people can access their art.
You can listen to the podcast or scroll down further to read the transcripts below:
Announcer: This is The Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast, a place to hear stories from the deaf and hard of hearing people, and from your host Ahmed Khalifa.
Ahmed: Thank you for your time. I really do appreciate it.
Melanie: My pleasure, thank you for asking.
Ahmed: Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting conversation. It’s something different. It’s something that I would like more people to be aware.
Melanie: Of course.
Ahmed: It’s another reason why I want to talk to you just to get people to be aware of different technologies, and different accessibility options, and different ways you can get people to access content. I’m passionate about it because I create all these content, but they need to be accessible.
Melanie: Of course.
Ahmed: So, that’s the idea. That’s why I contacted yourself and Stagetext…let’s get going. So, I’m sure you’ve talked about it a lot in the past, but I just want you to give a brief overview, if you can, do explain what is Stagetext, and how does it work? Just so everyone can get familiar with the clarity.
Melanie: Okay. So, Stagetext was set up 20 years ago. We are literally coming into our 20th year.
Melanie: So, it was set up by three deaf and hard of hearing people who absolutely adored the theatre. They were what I call real theatre geeks. They know more about theatre than I will ever know, and I’ve worked in the theatre for the past 40 years. They love it, and each of them had different types of hearing loss.
And so, two of them went to America on holiday and happened to see a captioned show in America and went, “Hang on, why can’t we have that in England? What’s going on?”.
And they literally came back, did a little bit of investigating, went back to the States and bought a caption unit and the software with their own money, came back and played with it on their kitchen table until they got it to work.
As I said, it’s one of those charities that is a kitchen table charity that has grown because it came out of necessity. It wasn’t somebody’s idea. It was literally life changing from the beginning because it was, wow, this can give us access.
And they went and talked to people within the theatre. The main person that they spoke to were people at the Royal Shakespeare Company when they were at the Barbican. On the 15th of November, 2000 they did the play The Duchess of Malfi Barbican, the RSC. And it was one of those sessions where people had got to hear about it on Teletext in those days.
Ahmed: Teletext! I remember those days.
Melanie: Haha, that technology.
Ahmed: I loved Teletext.
Melanie: Yeah. And they got to hear about it. So, I had booked tickets, and from my understanding of the stories from then, people were crying in the toilets because they couldn’t believe for the first time. They’re going, “Wow, I can hear better through the reading of this text.”
And in terms of the development of the organisation, that’s where it started. And it became Stagetext in a charity, and it’s gone from strength to strength. So, now not only do we do theatre, which is, we say it’s captions, which is pre-formatted text.
So, it’s the script. And the thing that is unique to Stagetext is that it’s verbatim. Whatever the actor is saying on the stage we put up on the screen. So, it’s no editing, no kind of messing around with the text. It is exactly as it’s being performed on the stage.
The thing that Stagetext does is make it so it is being delivered at the same pace as the actress speaking it. So, it’s not the script as you would read on the script pages.
We alter the lines, so it’s as the actor speaks it. So, if they’re breaking up lines, we will break up lines and that’s the skill. As you’ll be aware is we put things in light sound effects.
So, offstage noise, the window, or whatever, doors slamming. We also put in the character names so you know who’s speaking.
The other thing we do is then we do live speech to text, which is for museums, galleries, conferences. And that is done through speech to text reporters, and it’s live and they are literally typing.
So, it’s like court reporters, but we’ve trained them to work in a cultural setting. And then we also what we call digital subtitling. So, for anything that’s films, videos, trailers for your website, we can do it for you or we can teach you how to do it.
So, that’s Stagetext in a nutshell.
Ahmed: What a nutshell!
Melanie: And all the training as well that goes on, and advocacy that goes on as well.
Ahmed: Oh, there’s that as well. Wow! Here’s the thing that I’ve only recently realised, and I’ve heard of Stagetext through people talk about it, social media, all these things, but it’s a charity.
Ahmed: And I didn’t know that until I really dive deep into learning more about Stagetext. The people who started it, started it as a charity.
Melanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a charity. So, when people… We do charge for the service, but it’s not full cost recovery if you want to put it in those terms. So, they’re paying for the person that they’re in the room. That’s for their time in terms of delivering that service.
But all the back room staff, all the admin, all the kind of accounts, and all those kinds of things. As most charities we try to keep to a minimum, but that is the bit of the service that doesn’t really get the recognition because it is a lot of time, effort and support. But we are funded through the Arts Council as well.
But there’s always a big gap each year that we have to fundraise for through trust, charity, and foundations as well as people like yourself who every now and then give us a tenner. We go, “Oh that’s really good because I really enjoyed that play.
And I also went to that museum and did that talk and thank you, and here’s a, whatever, a tenner, a hundred pounds. We’re always asking people, but ultimately it’s free at the point of delivery for the user.
Ahmed: Wow. Well, that’s pretty amazing. And I would love to know, even from your own personal background, I mean do you have a link to deafness? I mean, you’ve mentioned that you’ve been in the industry for was it 30, 40 years you said?
Melanie: Yeah, I’m old, 40 years love.
Ahmed: I wasn’t even thinking. I just know that you are someone who’s clearly passionate about the industry, but do you have a link to deafness? I mean, how did you get into the world of essentially captions and subtitles?
Melanie: So, no, I’m not deaf. I am getting to that stage where you put me in a pub, and I can’t hear everything because my directional hearing’s going. But until this job, I’d never really thought about deafness, hard of hearing access in a very specific way.
However, my whole background, I’ve trained in theatre, in education and community theatre. So, I’ve always been passionate about access, about participation, about inclusion, that the arts is for everyone no matter who they are, whether it be class, race, gender, across the board.
For me the arts should be accessible. End of.
Ahmed: I agree.
Melanie: And so, that is what my career has been about. So, for years I worked in theatre and education as an actor and as a director. Then I went into the education management side of things.
So, I ran big projects for different theatres. And then I went into running art centres and I became the director of the opening in Deptford and of Jacksons Lane in North London in Highgate.
Then I left there and I went freelance and I ended up doing some work for Shape, the arts charity around a ticket scheme, and so became much more embroiled in disability arts.
But I’d always known about Grey Eye. I knew Jennie Sealy from Grey Eye. I’d got friends that had worked in the disability arts world. When I was at Jacksons Lane, we ran a disability arts festival called Exposure. So, I was aware. I’d been kind of around it. I knew some of the issues, but it was very much for me about engaging people in the process of creating art.
And then when this job came up, I got asked so many times, are you applying for it? Are you applying for it? And I was going they won’t want me, they’ll want a deaf or hard of hearing person. It was very much actually the best person for the job.
And I went through a rigorous process, and I got the job, and I am probably as passionate about it as any deaf person because I see how it transforms lives. I see the change that it makes in people. It’s incredibly moving and humbling. And I don’t mean to be patronising in any way, shape or form, but I’m bloody proud to be involved in it.
Ahmed: That’s beautiful. I love that. It’s clear that you are passionate about it. I’ve seen a few interviews of yourself when you talked about the impact that you have in your art industry and as I am passionate, right? Making content accessible, it’s important regardless of the type of content. It could be anything as simple as a video to making sure that a play is accessible.
Even from my own experience in my lifetime, I have only been to the theatre maybe two or three times in my life. I remember I watch Sweeney Todd, which I left halfway because I couldn’t get anything. And I watched Queen The Musical, which is a little bit easy because it’s a musical, and you can hear that part.
But in the between part I couldn’t. The Pantomime only been once. And school plays, being involved around that. And to this day, all of these… All of these performances that I’ve attended, I have no idea what is it about.
And because of all of these experiences, I never went again because I feel like I would be wasting my time and money to pay for something that I’m not going to have the same experience as everyone else.
Melanie: Ahmed, I will take you to the theatre, to a caption show. I will take you out, and we will go and see something that… You tell me what kind of theatre, what kind of things you want to go see, and I will take you and maybe we then interview you to see what you think.
Ahmed: I would take you up on that. I would take you up on that. I would love to do that. I have a lot of respect for the art industry anyway. It just something that…culture, it’s something that’s very important.
An art is part of culture, and performance, and all these things, music, is all part of culture as well, and it’s fascinating. Yes, I may not be as passionate as the next person in terms of being the regular theatre goer, but sometimes I wish I had the option.
Melanie: Yeah, that’s solely what’s it’s about.
Ahmed: That’s, it’s all about. Exactly. And it’s the same problem I have with cinemas. This is why we’re all fighting for it. The whole caption in cinemas, and it’s just the same idea. I stopped going because of that problem as well.
Melanie: It’s equality. You want equality.
Ahmed: It’s good that you’re passionate about it. I really like that.
Melanie: At the end of the day, you should have the same option as me to go and experience the world through art and culture. For me, the theatre is a way of exploring the world, which is a way of exploring your humanity, and every human being should be enabled to experience that process.
And I don’t care if it’s the most dev heavy three hour intellectual play or it’s Mama Mia. You should be able to go and experience both, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.
Ahmed: So, clearly this is around state check because the problem exists. I mean, I don’t know if you have any idea of how many people in the UK anyway visit the theatres and galleries, and going to cultural events and going to museums.
I’m sure it’s in millions, but I wouldn’t be able to know. But if we’re going to go with the statistics that’s been around that one in six people in the UK have some kind of hearing difficulty, whatever.
It’s profound. Or I know you said yourself even just going to a noisy pub. I imagine a percentage of them also have problems as well. So, definitely, in my own experience, and from knowing the art industry, it seemed like it’s a problem that does exist.
Melanie: It exists in the world, full stop.
You know, it’s like whether you want, as you said about the cinema, about going to the theatre, but it’s also, what about if you want to go to a cricket match? Can you hear the commentary? Why isn’t there live speech to text up on the screen when they’re doing the commentary?
When you go to a football match or whatever, and they’re doing the scores. It’s kind of like there are so many examples of everyday life that would be made… Well, would be enriched and made accessible for everybody if there was a text solution there.
And it’s about raising awareness. It’s about going… Because to be honest, the majority of people aren’t being nasty, and are excluding people on purpose. It’s because it’s not in their life experience. It’s because they’ve not thought about it.
Nobody’s gone in front of them and gone, here’s a mirror. Until you actually start saying to people, “Oh, in your family, how’s your grandma, grandad, aunt, uncle, mom and dad,” whatever, start to lose their hearing?
Because if you’re over 50, the likelihood is that you’re going to start losing your hearing. You have a 40% chance, sorry, when you’re 50 to start having some form of hearing loss. So, that’s a really high percentage. And when you’re over 70, it’s a 70% chance of having hearing loss.
So, we all know we’ve gone into our homes, and your mom and dad or grandma, granddad, whatever, have got the telly on so loud it’s reverberating.
Or you can hear next doors because the old bill next door got a telly on so loud. There is a whole kind of section of society that is being excluded. And also that leads to isolation because you stop going to do things. My dad was exactly one of those people.
He stopped going to the cinema and he was an avid film goer. He loved his films. He would go, that was the way he kind of switched off. So, in terms of excluding people in this day and age it’s outrageous, and yes it costs money, but a lot of places are making a lot of money.
Ahmed: And why not put a little bit of that to attract even more people…
Ahmed: … and you will kind of cover your cost anyway, you’re going to attract more people.
Melanie: Of course you would, of course you would.
And advertise it. That’s the other thing. That’s my biggest bugbear that people actually do provide some services and enable people to go, and then they don’t advertise it, and then they go, “Well, nobody came.”
And you go, “Did you put it in your brochure? Did you have it on your website? Did you tell us about it? Did you enable us to put it on our website, on our what’s on page?”
It’s amazing how many venues don’t publicise it enough and then go, “Well, we tried it once but nobody came.” You can’t try it once you’ve got to embed it into the culture of your organisation, so that it becomes the norm.
Ahmed: And then promote it as well on top of that.
Ahmed: That makes a lot of sense. How do the work then… I mean, I don’t want to get too deep into the whole setup for the theatres, and the museums, and all these places. How does it work, again, if you are an attendee, let’s go step-by-step.
What should an attendee expect when they go to a theatre? What are the exactly theme that they’re able to then access that performance in the theatre?
Melanie: So, first of all, make sure you’re going to a captioned theatre event.
Ahmed: Number one, yes. Rule number one.
Melanie: Yeah. Go through the access pages on a website, the venue’s website, because by going through the access page you will then enter a dialogue usually with a box office person or sometimes some venues actually do have access managers, access people, and they will enter a dialogue with you that will say, “Right, where do you like to sit in a theatre because these seats are the best seats for viewing the caption boxes.”
But you also might have… You might be very short-sighted. You might… Like me, I’ve got two knee replacements, so I like to sit at the end of the row so I can stretch my leg out. They will go through all your access requirements, and you will be placed in the best seats for viewing the caption boxes.
The caption boxes are usually placed either side of the stage. So, personally I like to look diagonally across the stage, so I’ll be looking at… If I’ve sat on the right hand side, I’ll be looking across the stage and viewing the left hand side caption box because it will be in my eye line.
Or you might want to sit in the dress circle. A lot of venues say, “Do it in the dress circle because you can see the caption box, and then you’re looking straight down onto the stage through the caption box as well.”
So there are different ways. The more you go to venues, the more you will learn where you like to sit, where is best for you. Because also if you’ve got hearing loss on one side and not the other side, you might want to be near that side, whatever works for you.
And that’s about choice and personal preference.
Ahmed: That makes a lot of sense.
Melanie: Yes, but if you don’t have that dialogue with the venue, you could be just buying a seat anywhere, and that is about sight lines and you won’t be able to have… A lot of people say, “Yeah, but I couldn’t see the caption box.” Did you book the access seats? No. Then that is why you didn’t see it because there will be… We recommend the optimum places in order to see the caption boxes.
So, also if you go through the access provision of the venue, you get potentially a access seat price, which means that quite often you’ll get a discount.
So you might get a 50% discount. So you can go with somebody for the same price as one full ticket. So, it has a beneficial cost because we all know that people who are disabled or have hearing loss or a death potentially earn less money than the rest of society.
And so, there is a… not everybody, of course, it’s not rule of thumb, but on the whole access seats are subsidised in that sense.
Ahmed: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. There’s a lot of things that you could learn from that. Don’t just sit in any seat.
You have to literally go to the right place on the website, booking form, sit in the right place, and then you get the idea, check out the map, check out all these things.
Talk to the people working there, the staff, all these things.
Melanie: Everybody’s there to help.
Melanie: Yeah. Inform yourself, get informed. Yeah. And also every production will have potentially the boxes in different places. They’re not always in the same place, so don’t think, “Oh, well I’ve been to, I don’t know, Theatre Royal, wherever, and it was in the right place for me.” In a different production they might put the boxes a different place because might have a bit of set that was before. So, every time you’re going to book a ticket, you need to go through the process because different [crosstalk 00:23:54] productions have different boxes.
Ahmed: Is this going to apply the same thing for the museum, and galleries and cultural events? Does the same rule apply for that as well?
Melanie: Yes. In terms of talking to them and finding out what provisions they’ve got. But the thing about museums and galleries is that it is live. So, it’s usually delivered by a live palantypist.
So, if you’re going on a tour of a museum, so say you were doing the Big Deal Show that was absolutely mega sold out at the V&A, and they did talks, you would have had a tablet that the live subtitles come on the tablet.
And so they would have limited groups in terms of numbers so that everybody has a tablet. The curator is speaking into a mobile phone. That text is then being typed by a remote speech to text reporter who is set in Plymouth with her slippers, with headphones on typing away. Her text comes through and is shown on your tablet.
So, it’s absolutely verbatim live to what the curator is saying in front of you. And everybody’s got a tablet.
If you want to ask a question, people put up their hand, they get given the mobile phone, they ask the question. That is then typed by the STTR, comes upon the tablets so everybody can read what the question is said, and then the curator takes the phone back, and gives the response to the question.
So, it’s a very kind of-
Melanie: Yeah, organic process.
Ahmed: Sounds like it. And it doesn’t sound too complicated really.
Melanie: It’s not. You just go and enjoy yourself.
Ahmed: Pretty much it, and I like that as well. Do you ever have a problem about… I’m trying to think of the common attitude from people who talk about caption in cinemas, and the cinema goers are those who are hearing are opposed to the idea because it’s going to be intrusive, it’s going to be annoying, and just not a good experience if you have captions at the bottom.
I mean, first of, check, as you say check, if it’s going to be captioned, don’t go. But anyway, that’s another story. You ever have a problem or had anything like that yourself when it comes to, especially in theatre, where they can see the text box right there.
Do people ever complain about that?
Ahmed: How do you around that then because that’s…you need it.
Melanie: I think there’s two responses.
Melanie: The majority of performances are not captioned. If you really are that against experiencing, having a caption box at your performance go to a different performance.
There are 100 performances, and there will be two or three that are captioned. As far as I’m concerned, if you are that anti-captioning go to the other 97. However, the reason why we say… We call it open captions with the caption boxes.
What’s the Difference Between Open-Captions & Closed Captions?
Ahmed: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.
Melanie: Is because a lot of people discover captioning through that way. A lot of people will be going through the process of losing their hearing, whether it be through age related or through illness or sudden hearing loss, and will discover seeing a caption box there in front of them and go, “Oh my God, this is fantastic. I never realised that this service existed.”
And so, we promote the use of caption boxes, and open captioning.
Also, it’s great for people with English as an additional language because it helps. It’s also great for people who have got neuro-divergent, so in terms of they might be a dyslexic, they might need help to concentrate more and that helps as well.
So, there are knock on benefits of the open captions as well. In terms of… I know it sounds quite stringent or strident rather when I go, “Go to the other…Really? Is it that difficult?” I would say we should be having more captioned performances, not less.
Ahmed: Well, that’s the problem with cinema as well because as you say it’s like you will have in one cinema every week it will be shown the same film maybe 20 times in that one week, but then one of them will be captioned. So, you have a lot of options, really.
Melanie: Yeah, yeah.
Ahmed: Of course it’s a responsibility as you said earlier that the venue organisers, they need to mention that on the website or whatever. They need to make it clear and obvious so that one, people who wants to go, they can see that. And people who as you say are anti-caption, they don’t go to that.
Melanie: But also, I think if you talked to people about why there is captioning, they quite often change their mind because they don’t understand why the captions are there. If you engage in the conversation…
So, we’ve been in scenarios where people have said, “I hate it.” And you go, “Why do you hate it?” And they go, “Well, I don’t know why it’s there. Why do you need it there?” “Well, maybe you can’t hear, and that would help people to hear it.” Once you explain that, and it’s kind of like, “Oh, I never thought of that. Oh, right, right.”
Melanie: So, you have an education responsibility as well, social responsibility, to make sure that… And one of the things we say to venues is don’t apologise for putting on a caption performance.
So, before in box offices, occasionally, I’ve heard some, “Oh, you know it’s a caption performance. Are you sure you’re okay going to that show? It’s a caption performance.”
Like as though it’s something terrible instead of, “Oh, just going to make you aware that’s a caption performance. Do you know what a caption performance is?” And explain it to them in positive terms.
Once people understand the context, on the whole, people are fine because lots of people these days use subtitles.
Ahmed: And it’s how you say it. Like you said, it’s how you say it.
Melanie: Yeah. Don’t apologise for it. Use it as a tool for advocating for it. Educate people about it, inform people about it, don’t be patronising them.
Ahmed: Again, this is why I wanted to talk to you about it. It’s the part of the whole educating, informing, and awareness thing. People need to know about these things, and I’ve mentioned a number of times on the benefits of having caption, and subtitles.
It’s not just for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, deaf. And as you say, people who want to learn that language or people who don’t know that language.
For people who are dyslexic or some kind of not able to… sensory impediment, or auditory. It could be a way for other people to just not feel exhausted from listening really, really hard. There are so many I’ve mentioned there. It’s about education.
Once you realise that, and once people get used to it, and even for me in my own household, my wife, she’s hearing, but she got so used to having subtitles on TV that it’s almost not there.
Ahmed: She got so used to it, and I know it’s because I have it on all the time, but it’s so become like a natural thing to have on TV and that’s what I think we need a bit more of-
Ahmed: Not just on the digital world, but on the offline world as well.
Melanie: Yeah. I completely 100% agree. Make it the norm.
Ahmed: That’s really interesting. I think it’s so true. I’m glad we’re talking about this so people can get that information in their head. It’s really, really important.
So, then if we can round it up, what would be the one thing that you want the art industry to be mindful of for the deaf and hard of hearing people? What would you want them to be aware of when it comes to making sure that making your content accessible is going to be a good thing?
Melanie: It’s got to be a 360-degree process of access. That’s what we’re about. Stagetext is an access charity, an access organisation. So, from the moment Ahmed decides that he’s going to go to the theatre, and he goes to a website, it should be clearly labelled accessible performances.
You click on it, there’s all the information there that you need. You can click on, bring up, it might be sent in an email, do not put please phone the theatre.
Ahmed: Yes. So many times I’ve seen that. Yes, yes. I’m not going to get too off track, but even the audiology department in some hospitals say call to arrange an appointment. I don’t understand that. But anyway, keep going. Yes, keep going.
Melanie: But you know where I’m coming from.
Ahmed: Oh yes.
Melanie: So, it’s kind of like from booking your ticket, the whole experience that we talked about, and then going through to make sure that your front of house staff are trained.
Make sure that your box office staff are trained. We’re not talking make them learn BSL because that’s the other thing. Not everybody knows BSL. Some people use BSL. It is their first language
It’s great, but there are a whole load of other people that don’t use BSL, so it’s awareness as well. There’s the whole little D, big D, deaf kind of communities, and everybody in between.
What’s the Difference Between Captital ‘D’ & Small ‘d’ in d/Deaf?
Have you ever wondered why some write it as ‘deaf’, and others write ‘Deaf’?
Have a piece of paper, if the worst comes to the worst, just get somebody to write down if they really are finding communication difficult. There are many ways that you can solve it in simple ways just to enable somebody to be included in the process.
So, right the way through to the bars so you can order your gin and tonic as well in the interval. And then the process of sitting in the theatre, and feeling as though you are having exactly the same experience of everybody else in that auditorium.
You are not being singled out in any way, shape or form. You are having a frictionless experience. You’re not having to do anything special. You’re not having to be singled out. You are just there to engage with the art.
Ahmed: You make it sound so simple. You really do.
Melanie: That’s what it’s about at the end of the day, and it should be. It should be in your brochure, it should be advertised.
They should be, yes, do Saturday afternoon matinee so that children can go with their grandparents to a performance. Hey, here’s something revolutionary. Do it on a Friday night so you can go on a date with your partner or to be partner rather than it being a Tuesday afternoon when everybody else is at work.
Yes, there needs to be some matinees so that older people can go and experience it in the daylight because they don’t want to travel late or whatever. But it should be across the board. It should be included in the programming of an organisation.
The last thing I’m going to say about it is the decision-making process to be inclusive in your organisation should come from the top. Only when the chief executive of an organisation understands inclusion, will it permeate throughout an organisation.
Don’t leave it to your volunteer manager or your volunteers to do the access inclusion. Make sure it’s embedded in the culture of your organisation. It should be from the people who make the decisions downwards.
Too many times it’s the responsibility of people who have no power, who want to do inclusion, and are committed to it, but they don’t have the budget. They don’t have the decision making power.
Ahmed: And you’re speaking from a chief executive experience yourself as well.
Melanie: Yeah. One of the things that I, when I started Stagetext was as the CEO, there was one person there who was deaf or hard of hearing. Now 50% of the staff are deaf or hard of hearing. The board is 50% deaf and hard of hearing. We are deaf-led.
That’s because I’m very aware that I’m not deaf. Yes, I can advocate for it. I can be passionate about it, but at the end of the day, you need to be using people’s experiences and understanding that live with it day in, day out.
They will inform your practise. They will tell you what needs to happen, what needs to change. I learned from my staff day in, day out. They are the ones that are setting the policies in Stagetext because it directly affects them.
Ahmed: It’s so true. And I think I should also clarify that this applies to everything in any organisation. If you want to talk about, for example, talk about women’s right, then make sure you have the right people around you.
Ahmed: Not just have an all men background. If you want to talk about certain demographics, certain disabilities, certain gender, anything that also applies to that as well.
So, this is the same thing in your case that you can be passionate about the topic of deaf, and be an advocate. But even for me, because I’m not profoundly deaf, even for me, I can’t speak for every single person.
Melanie: No, no.
Ahmed: And that’s why it’s best to have the right people with experience because everyone has different experiences and they will have their own inputs. And they will be able to provide so much value if you listen to them.
Melanie: Yeah. And don’t just consult them once you’ve made your decision.
Ahmed: That’s very true. In the beginning process…
Melanie: In the beginning. Yes! Don’t just go, “Oh, it was decided on this, and then now we’re going to consult.” No.
Ahmed: Yeah. That’s exactly it. And we’ve seen that too many times as well. It’s just, I don’t understand. I just don’t get it. Because they’ll do it again, and again.
It’s really interesting, and I’m now even more excited about what Stagetext is doing. I’m going to try my best to attend more if Stagetext is available, and I’m going to take up on your offer, and we need to go to a theatre together-
Melanie: Let’s do it. Let’s go out and kick the town.
Ahmed: Oh, London, here we come. I’m in Edinburgh, but who cares? London, be aware.
Melanie: You’ve got some great… I mean we don’t do Scotland. That’s the biggest problem. But you have got captioning up in Edinburgh.
Ahmed: Well, I’ve noticed that we have a few. So, it’s the case of as you say, it’s just making sure that you go to the right one, that it’s convenient to you. All these things. So, that’s another argument.
Same thing with cinema. It’s like Tuesday afternoon. I want to go with my wife or whatever. Same idea, but hopefully as we talk about it more, as people learn about it more, then it become more mainstream, it becomes normal, and then we’ll be on the right track.
Ahmed: Great. Can you just round up by saying where is the best place for people to learn more about Stagetext, to get more information about yourself as well?
Melanie: Okay, so the obvious one is our website, which is stagetext.org. So, you can go on there. If you want to find out about caption performances or live speech to text tours in museums and galleries, there is a what’s on page on the Stagetext’s website. It’s a listings service at the end of the day.
Please sign up for our newsletter that again is on the website, and we don’t inundate you with lots and lots and lots of newsletters, but you’ll get one about every two to three months that will just tell you what’s going on.
And also if you have got a tenner that you can spare somewhere along the line, please donate to Stagetext, and you can do that online as well at www.stagetext.org.
Ahmed: Wow, there you go.
Melanie: And we’re on Twitter, and we’re on Facebook.
Ahmed: What a way to round it up like that, stagetext.org. It’s brilliant. I’ll make sure that all of these are linked in the description in the transcript.
I’ll make sure that people can find it as easy as possible because it just sounds so amazing. I definitely want more people to learn about it because too many people can benefit from this, and not just deaf and hard of hearing people.
Ahmed: I have to appreciate your time…
Melanie: Thank you.
Ahmed: Thank you so, so much. It’s so awesome to learn about this and to learn about you.
Melanie: And nice to meet you.
Ahmed: And you too.
Melanie: If you ever come to London, let me know. If you’re coming down, let’s do it. Let’s go to the theatre.
Ahmed: I’m so tempted. I’m really tempted. There you go, London, let’s go.
Melanie: Bring your wife. Come on. Let’s do it.
Ahmed: Thank you Melanie for being on our podcast. I really do appreciate it. Loved the interview. Absolutely loved the passion. It really does shine through about what you’re doing for Stagetext. It’s just so awesome.
And I hope for everyone else, make sure you check out in the show notes the link to everything that we’ve talked about, and to also learn more about Stagetext.
Maybe one day you’ll get to see them live doing their work in front of you. So, make sure you check out the notes there.
And while you’re at it, make sure you also to leave a review on whatever podcasting platform that you’re using. I would love to know what you think about the podcast. It really, really helps to make sure that I give you what you want.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
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