Why is Open Captioning the Best Solution for Movie Theaters?

I am writing a follow up to my article, Fire Alarm to Protest Against a Captioned Movie? – where I mentioned about a 30-something man pulling fire alarm to protest against the open-captioned Avengers at a movie theater in Maryland last year.

Also, there were complaints from hearing Brits complaining last year about The Artist movie because it had no dialogue – as if they did not know what silent movie means? Also, weren’t they even a bit curious to experience what it was like in the early days when there was no sound in silent movies?

Many hearing people do not realize how much they take for granted the ease of attending movie theaters at any time they want without worries about accessibility issues. If they do not mind watching subtitled foreign movies, they should not complain about same language captioned movies – especially that deaf and hard of hearing people did not have access to movies for so many years.

Sheena, a deaf American, shares her experience using Sony’s captioning eyeglasses at a theater which she did not find very comfortable. She says: “We look forward to a day when we can recieve the FULL movie experience that most hearing people take for granted.” She also wonders: “With much reflection, why are we, Deaf people, continuing to adapt? Why aren’t the hearing people adapting? Do not give me “They’re the majority” or “The captions on the screen is bothersome.” excuse. They can get everything on the fly.”

Americans with hearing loss are not the only ones complaining about being forced to use closed-captioned devices instead of enjoying open-captioned movies. There are also many angry and frustrated deaf/hoh Australians who got upset that theaters reduced the number of open captioned movies and complain about CaptiView devices. Gary Kerridge (an Australian) says in his article, CaptiView: a raw deal for deaf cinema goers: “The latest innovation in cinema access for Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing is proving to be more of a nightmare than an access solution.” As a result, there were many deaf/hoh people in Australia protesting against theaters a month ago.

Recently iDeaf News made a video where Sandra Waala the reporter interviewed Roger Claussen about the issue of theaters reducing the number of open captioned movies and increasing the number of closed captioned devices (CaptiView, Rearview, Sony’s captioned eyeglasses). Roger stated that over 98% of deaf/hoh people prefer OPEN captions when watching movies at theaters.

If you care about making more movies at theaters OPEN captioned, please fill out the survey. Actually, theaters would get more patrons if their movies are open captioned because it is universal access.

Please watch the following video by iDeaf News to better understand frustrations of deaf/hoh patrons with movie theaters.

4 thoughts on “Why is Open Captioning the Best Solution for Movie Theaters?

  1. Greg Riice

    Hi Sveta,

    Thanks for your article, it is very timely. Within 30 days of posting this article – March 18, 2013 – ALL U.S. movie theaters have eliminated ALL Open Captioned showings of movies-in-theaters (films made by U.S. studios – films with subtitles, virtually 100% non-English films, imported to U.S. remain in their limited showings).
    I have been tracking the showings of captioned and subtitled movies-in-theaters in the U.S. for over a decade. I am awaiting response from recent inquiries I’ve made to activists in the American Deaf community, trying to learn if ANY Deaf group has been invited to participate in ANY testing, evaluation of the various formats used for film access for Deaf – and therefor legal compliance with U.S. federal law.
    This week, from May 3, 2013, marks the 4th consecutive week there have been ZERO Open Caption showings of movies-in-theaters. This is a HUGE, act of legal Bad Faith, by the super-rich Hollywood Movie Studios and the few giant theater owning corporations, owned and controlled, mostly, by billionaire Philip Anschutz. This is a pivotal moment, demanding action by all Deaf and Hard of Hearing, around the world – as the U.S. is one of the major film exporters globally, and controls standards of presentation formats, such as language-dubbing, captioning, and subtitles.
    I hope you can continue to monitor the issue and continue to share your research with the Deaf community, and encourge direct participation by DHH to:
    1. contact U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) who enforce the federal law on movie captions – and demand immediate inquiry.
    2. contact any or all U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives – who have virtually all been negligent of DHH Equality Issues, including neglecting to count any Deaf in the most recent U.S. Census, in 2010. – Demand attention and action immediately. Adam Schiff is the U.S. Congressman whose district covers Burbank,California, the legal home of most of U.S. Movie Studios and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the rich, powerful lobby group who have resisted basic Equal Access rights of DHH, from the inception of the ADA law.

    Greg Rice

  2. Sveta

    Greg – thanks for sharing. Yes, it’s sad that open captioned movies are no longer shown in USA theaters. I dislike eyeglasses and will stop attending movie theaters altogether until they offer open captioned movies again.

  3. jgriswold

    I would like to share with you how I felt about movie theatre – with device glasses. It was not comfortable at all. I decided not go there anymore. I really miss open-captioned, and I enjoyed attending to watch. Hope it will come back again.
    Thank you

  4. Virginia Korleski

    I have both a hearing impairment, and vision loss, also I have a learning disability that make harder for me to communicate, so I’ve use CC and audio description when I can to aid myself, I don’t think it at my local movie place.

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