Theatre Tablet Project

Orange, Panthea, the University of Antwerp and NTGent present their unique and complete accessibility project.

In the video above, you can see Serge Vlerick. Serge was born deaf and has the Flemish Sign Language as his mother tongue. He is also a professional interpreter of Flemish Sign Language. Serge interpreted the complete script of Compassion (Milo Rau, Els Dottermans & Olga Mouak) for this project.

NTGent Theatre Tablet Project kicks off

On the 4th of March 2020 NTGent presents the Theatre Tablet Project together with partners Orange, Panthea, the OPEN Expertise Centre for Accessible Media and Culture of the University of Antwerp and others. By bringing image and time together, this project is unique within the Flemish theatre world. Hereby NTGent plays a pioneering role in the complete accessibility of its performances (for the blind, visually impaired, deaf and hearing impaired).

The first ideas for the project came in 2011. A way was sought to surtitle performances in order to make theatre more accessible to the deaf and the hearing impaired. Surtitling or subtitling, however, turned out not to be sufficient. Many deaf people were not raised in Dutch, but in Flemish Sign Language. This is an officially recognised language since 2006. With this project NTGent gives an extra dimension to the accessibility policy it has been pursuing for years.

The Theatre Tablet Project is unique in the Flemish theatre world. All the scenes of Milo Rau’s show Compassie were recorded and interpreted separately. Theatre consists of snapshots. Each performance varies in time and duration. That is why it is not an option to interpret the performance in one piece and film it. The Theatre Tablet Project offers a personal, individual interpretation of the performance as it is played that day. This is done by linking the interpreted recordings to the surtitles. In addition to these surtitles and interpretations, audio description is also offered, which is a description of what can be seen on stage for the blind and visually impaired. A combination of these three services promotes the complete accessibility of different target groups during the same performance. From season 2020-2021 onward, the Theatre Tablet Project will be available for new productions by NTGent.

Other applications will also be offered on the Theatre Tablet. Information such as the duration of the performance, emergency exits, the possibility to consult public transport after the performances and the programme booklet, will be available on the tablet. During the performance, only the interpretation will be shown.

Supported by: Orange, Panthea, OPEN Centre of Expertise for Accessible Media and Culture of the University of Antwerp, the Flemish Government, Inter and Icorda.

Orange: “Orange is very proud to support this initiative. The ‘Theatre Tablet Project’ brings together important elements that we also use when looking for innovative and technological solutions to guarantee inclusiveness and greater prosperity. As a telecom operator, we find it extremely important to make the best possible use of technology. NTGent’s creative Theatre Tablet Project is a perfect example of this”.

photo: Ann-Sophie-Van-Baeveghem