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      Enjoying the theatre, tours and talks

      If you have hearing loss, you'll know that trying to enjoy leisure activities outside the home can be challenging and frustrating. Although some venues go to great lengths to be as accessible as possible, too many lag behind. Look out for these devices that can make all the difference.

      It's difficult to know how accessible a theatre, cinema or any other venue is going to be before you get there. Even if you've been told that assistive technology is available, you may find it's not working – or staff don't know where it is (or how to use it). We're determined to improve people's deaf awareness and venue accessibility. Take a look at our Sound solutions information leaflet to find out more.

      Hearing loop and infrared systems

      Hearing loop and infrared systems help people with hearing loss hear more clearly by reducing the effect of background noise. These systems are often available in cinemas and theatres, at bank and post office counters, and in shops, transport ticket offices, places of worship and crematoriums.

      A hearing loop converts sound (speech or music picked up by a microphone or direct connection) into a signal which is picked up by hearing aids that have a 'T' (telecoil) programme – now commonly known as the hearing loop setting.

      If you don’t use a hearing aid, you can still listen to a hearing loop system by using a loop listener, a portable listening device that has earphones or headphones. Hearing loops are often called ‘loops’ or ‘induction loops’. You may sometimes see the longer technical term ‘audio-frequency induction-loop system’ (AFILS).


      West End shows have some text translation and signed productions. The stage text and theatre signwebsites will tell you which shows have this support available, and at what times. Some of the shows also have signed synopsis available.


      Increasingly, venues and tour guides use apps to provide you with signed videos of their talks and written displays. For more information about these and accessibility in general, contact the venue you're going to visit. You may also find some useful apps on our apps page.

      Through our Technology Initiative for Hearing Loss, we're striving to catalyse innovation in, and the development of technology to help improve access to services and entertainment venues. If you have a concept or technology that you think may be of interest to us, contact us through our Request for Support form.