A new free app called The Galapro App is making theaters more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing people by providing closed captions directly to their phone.
This is big news for deaf theatergoers, as closed captions are often hard to come across at live shows.
The brain behind this app is the company Gala Prompter, a startup based in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The company partnered with the theatrical production organization, The Shubert Organization, to sign a contract making captions available their 17 Broadway theaters in New York City.
“Up until 15 years ago, deaf theatergoers in New York had only occasional access to sign language performances,” Robert Wankel, president of The Shubert Organization told NPR.
There have also been attempts to provide captions through captioning devices, but there were a limited number of devices at a show. Having this new app opens accessibility to anyone who needs it without having to provide an additional device.
How does the app work?
Using this app is simple!
1. Download the App
2. Turn your phone in airplane mode
In order to use the app, you must turn your phone on airplane mode to be considerate of others. This prevents notifications from going off throughout the show.
3. Turn on your phone’s wifi
4. Connect to the Galapro Network
5. Select the show you are watching and language that you want the closed captions to be in.
The captions will automatically start once the show starts. The words will appear with a black background behind them.
Even if the actor skips words or changes the script, the app will be able to keep up with the change, according to the developers.
“… if an actor stops, it stops,”Kyle Wright, initiator of the app, explained to NPR. “If an actor skips 20 pages, God forbid, then it skips with [them]. … And this becomes very important in shows like with John Leguizamo, who, by virtue of being a one-man show, jumps around based on the audience.”
The right steps to future accessibility
Although this app only provides closed captions to certain shows in certain theaters, it is a progressive step towards accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
We hope to see more theaters partner with this app and hopefully see it used in other entertainment venues such as cinemas and concerts!
Have you tried out this new app yet? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.