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TDF's Access for Young Audiences program has recently begun presenting audio described performances for young theatregoers who are blind or have low vision.


National Open Captioning Initiative

2014 - 2015 Deadline: April 15, 2014





Major funding for the National Open Captioning Initiative is provided by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the MetLife Foundation, and the NEA.     

TDF offers a limited number of two-year regional theatre partnerships to sponsor open-captioned performances and increase attendance by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

TDF sponsorship of open-captioned performances is intended as a service in and of itself for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.  It is not intended as a supplemental service to be offered in tandem with regularly scheduled sign language interpreted performances.

TDF is specifically interested in partnering with new markets and partnerships are not intended to be used as a funding source for theatres already offering open captioning.

No monies are exchanged between TDF and each venue but rather a mutually agreed upon sharing of responsibilities that are outlined below. The deadline for first and second year theatres interested in being considered for a National Theatre Open Captioning Partnership during the 2014-2015 is April 15, 2014

Below are the current guidelines.

Theatre Development Fund provides:

  • Cost of service:  Payment of expenses for contracting open captioning services through a professional theatre captioning company, which includes captioning fees as well as any travel expenses incurred by the caption operators during the preparation process and performance. Our service provider is c2 - Caption Coalition, for any OC sponsorship as we have a long standing partnership with them in modeling best practices on a national level. c2 is specific to TDF funding.
  • Assistance with Promotion:  Listing of TDF-sponsored open-captioned performances at the partnering venue on TDF's website, with links for ticket  purchasing; and publicizing these accessible performances on email and regular mail notices to TDF theatregoers with hearing loss.
  • Expertise:  Readiness to share experience on audience development, equipment options and funding; and to serve as a liaison, when needed, between producing entity and venue in regard to queries that may arise, such as obtaining scripts or support involved in accommodating these accessible performances.

Partnering Venue provides:

  • Tickets:  Designation of a minimum of 25 seats in the front orchestra, side section, within comfortable reading distance of the captioning unit, made available to people with hearing loss and sold through the venue box office.
  • Marketing: Acknowledgment to TDF as caption provider in print and website listings notifying the public of these accessible performances; and on production credit page, in same size and format as union acknowledgments, acknowledgment to TDF, with TDF logo, substantially as follows: “Partial support for open captioning provided by Theatre Development Fund.”
  • TDF credit:  Insertion of one-page program stuffer (copy supplied by TDF) listing appropriate acknowledgments; and distribution of TDF-supplied questionnaires to a random sampling of at least 50 audience members on the captioning side of the orchestra for two TDF sponsored open captioned performances, several months apart, during the first season of a possible two-year pilot project. (DOWNLOADABLE FORMS AND LOGOS)

    Please Note: Should the Partnering Venue fail to uphold any of these provisions, TDF reserves the right to terminate the partnership at any time.

    Although TDF leaves the ticket cost of each sponsored open-captioned performance up to individual theatres, we strongly recommend parity in pricing.  For example, if a theatre offers discounted tickets for sign language interpreted and audio-described performances, then, if at all possible, the same policy should be extended to its open-captioned performances.

    LETTER OF INQUIRY - First Year Partnership

    Theatres interested in being considered for a partnership should send a letter that briefly outlines the following:

  • Commitment to providing better access for people with disabilities;
  • Indication of strong community support for open captioning; e.g., letter(s) from members of the community with hearing loss requesting open captioning and/or letter(s) from local HLAA chapter(s).
  • Proposed season schedule of open-captioned performances with dates,  times and productions listed, preferably in a series; e.g., one open-captioned  performance of each production in the Broadway Series, offered on the first Saturday matinee of each show's run.

LETTER OF CONTINUATION - Second Year Partnership

Theatres wishing to continue their partnership for a second year should send support materials including the following:

  • Examples of first year OC performance marketing efforts; e.g., postcards, webpage, e-mails, etc., and results from two audience surveys for OC performances, taken several months apart.
  • Indication of strong community support; e.g., box office numbers citing the number of tickets purchased in the open captioning section for each OC performance and letter(s) of support from patrons with hearing loss.
  • Proposed season schedule of open-captioned performances with dates, times and productions listed, preferably in a series; e.g., one open-captioned performance of each production in the Broadway Series, offered on the first Saturday matinee of each show's run.

The deadline for first and second year theatres interested in being considered for a National Theatre Open Captioning Partnership during the 2014-2015 is April 15, 2014. 

Applying theatres will be notified no later than June 30, 2014. Theatres that are accepted for a 2014-2015 partnership, will be asked to return signed letters of agreement from TDF confirming the agreed upon schedule of open-captioned performances no later than July 14, 2014.

Theatres applying for a second year partnership for the 2014 - 2015 season should wait to submit their letters until two audience surveys have been completed and analyzed.

Letters may be sent to:
Lisa Carling
Director of TDF Accessibility Programs
Theatre Development Fund
520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 801
New York, NY 10018-6507
Tel:  212.912.9770 x 380
Fax:  212.768.1563
Email: Lisa Carling