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Last month, I wrote here on abledbody.com about a new captioning application for the iPhone that lets deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers follow the dialogue of almost any movie in any movie theater in the nation. Subtitles, as this app is called, was developed by Dan Walker, who did not realize that it would greatly benefit deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers. Movies are hardly ever captioned; deaf and hard-of-hearing people usually frequent select movie theaters that show movies with open captions or use the Rear Window Caption System, usually at specific times of day. Because I am deaf, using the Subtitles app I was able to watch “Avatar” at my local movie theater in New York City, two blocks away from my home, for the first time — even though I have lived in this neighborhood for four years. Earlier this week, Dan Walker was notified by Apple that his app violated ... keep reading »
Now that the thrust of the holiday movie season is upon us, let’s talk about something not so cheerful: Going to a film and not being able to hear it. Thousands of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing miss out because they can’t follow dialogue on the big screen. Big chains like AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment, having been sued countless times for not having captioning systems, have agreed to settle lawsuits by installing some caption systems, in some cities. As a result, some U.S. movie theaters have this technology in place. The bigger nut to crack is finding a particular film, when you want it, where you want it. It’s almost fanciful, like trying to catch Santa in your chimney on Christmas Eve. Movie chains say they don’t want to disrupt their hearing audience, so they tend to run captions on just one or two new films — of ... keep reading »
According to The Arizona Star, AMC Multi-Cinema Inc. has agreed to retrofit some of its auditoriums to make the shows there more accessible to the deaf and the blind. “AMC agreed to install new digital captioning and “narrative description” technology — for people who are blind technology in two auditoriums at its lone 15-auditorium theater at the Foothills Mall and additional auditoriums at eight theaters in the Phoenix area. The chain also agreed that at least 10 percent of any new auditoriums will have the same technologies. The move comes more than two years after the state Attorney General’s Office filed suit accusing the chain of discrimination. The deal ends the lawsuit and the possibility that a judge could fine the company and order the firm to make specific changes.” keep reading »
A group of Washington state residents have filed a lawsuit to force movie theaters to make closed-captioned movies available more frequently to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Washington State Communication Access Project, who filed the suit, says more accessible entertainment should be available under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Movie theater oweners disagree, saying that they only need to provide access to the theater, and not to the films. keep reading »
I just read that a group of Washington state residents have filed a lawsuit to force movie theaters to make closed-captioned movies available more frequently to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Another suit, another settlement, I suppose. But it’s good to keep momentum going on this issue. Since movies became “talkies” 50 years ago, film companies and movie chains have been keeping the hearing and sight impaired from enjoying one of America’s biggest forms of entertainment. I wrote about this issue in 2001 for BusinessWeek. Eight years ago, movie theaters, backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, said they were reluctant to spend money to burn open captions onto films, especially if the technology became “obsolete”. Well, the digital age has arrived, so that argument doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s very cost-effective to embed caption data, and to that end, audio descriptive data, into digital film. It’s just ... keep reading »

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