The texts spoken at the theatre performances are streamed as subtitles on the smartphones of the audience, thanks to a new Vodafone development presented by the telecommunications company in cooperation with the National Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SINOSZ) at Játékszín’s rendition of The Intouchables.
The technology debuted on 26 September at the Játékszín, starring István Hirtling and Gábor Vadász in the play which was staged in 2017. At the event, Anita Orbán, Deputy CEO of Vodafone, highlighted that digitalization can help in all areas of life, it can be a tool to overcome and bridge social disadvantages. She pointed out that the Digital Award, the digital innovation prize of the Vodafone Foundation, created in 2018, has a special theme in the accessibility category, for example, a mobile application already presented teaches sign language.
Károly Karl, Head of the Department of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority, described the development as outstanding, which will allow deaf and hard of hearing people to enjoy the plays. He said that digital tools offer a great opportunity to help people with disabilities. He particularly welcomed the fact that equal opportunities and access are being achieved through an infocommunication solution. Furthermore, he praised the fact that market players are going the extra mile in order to implement developments which has opened up new dimensions of cultural experiences for stakeholders.
Margit Sáfrány, Director of SINOSZ, said that on the occasion of the Day of the Deaf, the organisation celebrated its 115th birthday over the weekend, making it the 4th oldest organisation in the world. The deaf and hard of hearing people have always had a need for cultural programmes, and so far a sign language interpreter has been used. He stressed that the cooperation with Vodafone has been going on for years.
Tamás Bank, the theatre’s director, said that the Játékszín is the first theatre to introduce the innovation, and expressed his hope that it will be used in as many theatres as possible.
The practical use of the solution presented is simple: viewers connect via their smartphones to the closed Wi-Fi network provided by Vodafone, which is only accessible to those who have purchased tickets for the performance. Once connected to the Wi-Fi, the visitor can access the website through which the subtitling of the theatre performance is provided.
Audience members place their mobile phones in a holder on the back of the theatre seats. The text is displayed on the phone screen on a dark background, so as not to distract the rest of the audience, yet it can be read comfortably by the hard-of-hearing audience while still allowing them to follow what is happening on stage. It was announced that the parties plan to use the technological innovation presented in the long term. There are almost 60,000 hard-of-hearing and 9,000 deaf people in Hungary.