The Fringe Society is committed to increasing accessibility at the festival and we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves through creativity and experience the thrill of live performance.

Our vision is that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be the most inclusive arts festival in the world, and we think every Fringe company can play a part in that.

We have created a guide to help you find out what you need to know about making your show more inclusive, ensuring that more people can enjoy your work.

Open the Fringe guide to putting on an Accessible show

The guide contains the tools to make small changes which will have a huge impact:

  • What you need to know about captioning shows.
  • How to get started with creating a touch tour.
  • What to consider if you're planning a relaxed performance.

We're here to help! If you have any questions about putting on an accessible show get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] for information on how your show can be involved.

What is captioning? 

Captions are similar to television subtitles and give audiences who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing access to live performances. Captions can also be useful to neurodivergent audiences and for those whose first language is not English. 

There are two ways captioning can be displayed to an audience throughout a performance:

  • Open captions are always in view to all the audience and cannot be turned off. These are displayed on LED displays (caption units) or projected or shown onto screens. 
  • Closed captions are in view to only one audience member, displayed on personal devices such as tablets or mobile phones, and can be turned on and off by the viewer. 

The Fringe Society is offering comprehensive captioning support to artists, venues and companies for Fringe 2024. This offer includes:

  1. Open captioning units for three venues for the duration of the festival. These venues are the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Summerhall and one more to be confirmed. 

    Please contact these venues directly if you wish to know more about their captioning plans for the festival. 
  2. Online event: Captioning basics by Claire Hill (Wednesday 17 April, 12:00 – 14:00 BST) 

    Experienced captioner Claire Hill will host a 90-minute online event to demystify captioning and provide a supportive and encouraging space where artists can raise concerns they may have regarding captioning performances. Bring your sandwiches and your questions for this lunch time webinar. 

    Attendees of this event will have access to our loan offer of an open captioning unit, and will be prioritised for financial support towards captioning a Fringe performance.

    Sign up for this event on Fringe Connect
  3. Open captioning unit loans to artists, venues and companies, with tech support from the Fringe Society and Digital4. If you would like to reserve a open captioning unit for one performance of your registered Fringe show, please send the following information to [email protected]:
    • Your Fringe registered show name
    • Your company name
    • Venue
    • Preferred captioning date
  4. We will provide financial support for a captioner to caption your performance. Priority will be given to those attending the captioning basics online event (above) and those borrowing the Fringe Society’s captioning equipment; in the event of this opportunity is oversubscribed, attendees of the event will be selected at random from a draw.

    Those receiving financial support will be notified in the week commencing 29 April.
  5. Access to online SopraText captioning software provided by Digital4 live from April to 29 August 2024. This online platform will provide free captioning software for those who wish to convert scripts into captions for performances. 
  6. SopraText support workshop in June (date tbc), facilitated by Digital4, enabling artists, venues and companies to gain support in converting scripts into captions for performances.

    To register your interest to attend this event, please email [email protected].
  7. We have compiled a captioner directory who are available throughout the festival. This will be continuously updated as we approach the festival. We are keen to build up our captioners directory, so if you know any captioners who might be interested in being included, please direct them to our captioners availability form. 

    View the captioner Directory

What is audio description?

Audio description provides additional narration (normally live rather than an audio track) describing what is happening on the screen or stage during natural pauses in the audio or during dialogue. This is provided for visually impaired people. This is done by a trained audio describer, narrating on a headset via infrared, radio or wifi. This can be done in the same space where the performance takes place or elsewhere, depending on the audio kit being used. 

This Fringe Society is offering the following audio description support:

  1. Two audio description kits for loan. 

    Find out more and book an AD kit
  2. Online event: audio description information by Caroline Jaquet, Chair ADA Scotland 
    15:00 BST, Tuesday 11 June 2024

    Caroline Jaquet, Chair of Audio Description Scotland, will host a 90-minute online event explaining what audio description is and how it can enhance performances, making them accessible for visually impaired audiences. 

  3. An audio describer directory is available by contacting [email protected].

We are currently working in consultation with visually impaired community groups, organisations and artists to improve our access for visually impaired audiences, aiming to develop our audio description offer further in 2025.

The Equality Act legislation states that service providers (in this case, venues) should make reasonable adjustments to their premises so that there are no physical barriers stopping or making it unreasonably difficult for wheelchair users or people with particular access requirements to use the services.

Check with your venue what their accessibility is, and make sure this is effectively conveyed to audiences.

Please get in touch with [email protected] if you have any specific questions about the information on this page. A member of our team can set up a 10-minute slot to talk things over with you on the phone or on a video call.

Please note, slots are based on team availability.