When it comes to creatively captioning a show, we have to carefully consider the needs of our audience. A crucial part of creative captioning is making sure that your captions are not only creative but maintain a level of accessibility that ensures members of your audience who rely on captions don't feel left out or overwhelmed.
It can be tricky finding the right balance. Therefore, I have listed a few tips below to help make sure that your captions can be both creative and accessible:
- Get feedback throughout the process, particularly from those who are deaf or hard of hearing and use it to help guide your work. The earlier in the process the better so you can avoid having to do more work or changes.
- Consider working in a team. It might be easy to give the role of a creative captioner to one person. However, their skill set might be more focused in a particular area such as animation, or programming. Therefore it's good to consider different roles for different areas of captioning. These roles could be:
- Captioner - Responsible for taking the script and creating a captioned friendly format with consideration to the language, timing, spelling, grammar and sound descriptions.
- Designer - Responsible for creating the design of the captions.
- Consultant - Ensures the captions are accessible and provides feedback to the designer.
- Programmer - Loads the captions into software for playback during a show, such as QLab.
- Operator - Responsible for operating the captions during a show. This might be a dedicated stage manager within the company.
- Aim to have a complete script as soon as possible so that the captions don't need many edits during rehearsals and tech. This can be tricky, especially with devised work. Therefore, it's important to make sure you have good communication throughout the process. It can be helpful working with cloud based platforms such as Google Docs and Dropbox so everyone is aware of any edits.
- Rehearse with the captions as much as possible. This will give the operator the opportunity to be more comfortable working with the captions and highlight any issues ahead of time.
- Carefully consider the use of animation and stylised fonts. Once you start animating each caption and have various font styles, it can become much harder to read at a comfortable pace. If you are planning to use any animation or creative fonts then feedback is essential. It might be more impactful to use these momentarily instead of throughout.
- Work with the set designer to find a suitable position and size for the captions
- Give a clear sense of where your captions are situated on stage, if you are considering moving the captions then there should be a clear visual indication and reason for moving them.
- It can be helpful to stack or scroll your captions to allow for longer reading times.
If you have any other tips, or want to find out more then please do get in touch via the Contact page.