Been doing some research on the options for access to the theater. It depends on the venue and location and how many Deaf/HH people patronize the theater in said area. Some areas like NYC, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco have an in-house program for access for D/HH patrons. (Those schedules can be found on the right column - speaking of, I added the schedule for the Detroit, MI area after finding it the other night).
Most venues have the customary ALDs (Assistive Listening Devices). Some come equipped with a headphone, others can be used with a Personal Audio Cable coupled to the wearer's own hearing aids or cochlear implant.
Some locations offer sign language interpreters upon request, others have a full season of interpreted shows (or at least they made a committment to offer at least one interpreted performance per run). The number of interpreters used (most use 2, some are daring with one, others have used up to 16 as was done at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, courtesy of HandsOn).
Not only that, the quality also varies (see post regarding the different ways to sign "Defying Gravity"). It can be unpredictable regarding the quality and effectiveness of the interpreters cast for the gig - sometimes they can be spectacular, other times they can kill a show.
Fewer venues offer open-captioning (mainly through c2 in the United States and Stagetext in the United Kingdom). In this configuration, the screen reader is set up on stage while a script is fed through a feeder laptop computer. This option is gaining a wider audience, especially for shows sponsored by TDF (Theater Development Fund) as research shows that a high percentage of patrons with hearing loss DO NOT use the sign language interpreters, so they benefit more from captioning.
Another type of captioning used is the handheld variety. Mainly used at Broadway theaters (the Gershwin, the August Wilson, and the Winter Garden for WICKED, JERSEY BOYS and MAMMA MIA!, respectively) and at the Disney theme parks, this takes captioning to a new level. Resembling a PDA in size and function, the device uses timed PowerPoint slides with the dialogue/lyrics fed synchroniously with the light and sound cues.
The advantage of this system is that the user can sit anywhere in the house, unlike open-captioning and sign language interpreter users who have to sit up front in order to optimize their usability.
When none of those mentioned above are available, there is the tried-and-true fallback - the script. Even though the PLAYBILL makes a statement discouraging the flipping of pages during a show as "noisy distraction", sometimes this option is the only option available at many theaters that can't afford or won't provide the other options above.
Myself? I have tried all those (a majority of them using the script option though interpretation is slowly beating out that option), and they all have their own pros and cons.
My question is, which system have you used in the past? What is the ideal combination, if possible? Thoughts about the various systems?