The Motion Picture
Access Project was created to revolutionize theater going for
the entire deaf and blind communities, but theater owners are somewhat
at a standoff with consumers. That is, theater owners are reluctant
to make the initial investment to install equipment because they're
unaware how large their potential audiences would be and subsequent
profit. So, like a chicken and egg dilemma, they fear they won't
have enough customers to make it worth their while; sadly limiting
accessible film opportunities. Captioning and descriptive narration
were developed by WGBH in Boston. The system is not utilized in
very many theaters nationwide.
Many people are not aware that they
may request assistive listening devices (ALDs) at movie theaters.
These are headsets that access the theater's infrared, FM radio,
or audio induction loop sound system. ADA Title III requires that
movie theaters and playhouses with at least 50 fixed seats provide
ALDs to four percent of the audience. That means that a 100-seat
theater must provide four ALDs. Headsets will access the house soundtrack
from any seat in the theater. ALDs help a listener hear the soundtrack,
as well as block out background noises.
A movie theater, playhouse, auditorium, house
of worship, or public meeting place will each have its own type
of sound system.
Therefore, the type of ALD offered will greatly
vary in quality from one theater to the next; it's advisable for
the hard-of-hearing user to test the device before the movie begins
to be sure it is working properly and is set for the correct movie
(not set for another movie shown in the same complex). If you possess
an adapter that allows you to plug your hearing aid directly into
the theater's sound system, make sure you bring it (a neckloop or
coupler) with you.
A film having open captioning is a
film printed with subtitles; closed captioning requires a decoding
device to view captions.
Open captions contain dialogue, as well as descriptions
of sounds and music - vital elements that, like the set design and
costumes, set the tone and texture of a production. The soundtrack
still plays along with the film, regardless of a consumer's ability
to hear it. Now you can see some new, wide-release films with open
captioning, such as Titanic or Star Wars.
Open-captioned films are becoming increasingly
available in the United States and internationally. Several companies
produce character-generated subtitles. You or your group may wish
to request a theater owner to show open-captioned films. You may
be the first person to alert the theater owner of the need for open-captioned
films in the area. It's profitable for theaters to increase their
clientele by including deaf or hard-of-hearing customers through
available technology. Per your request, a company that distributes
open-captioned films will also contact a theater owner.
TRIPOD Captioned Films (TCF) is a nonprofit
community outreach project of the TRIPOD Model School Program in
Burbank, California. Established in 1982, TCF is a program for deaf
and hard-of-hearing children and their families. TCF brings movie
theater operators together with the captioned film audience. TCF
makes open-captioned copies of films about four weeks after a new
film is released nationally. For information on bringing Tripod
captioned films to your area, go to http://www.hearingcenteronline.com/newsletter/may00b.shtml
National Amusements is another company that distributes
open-captioned films to 12,000 movie houses throughout the United
States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Latin America. See http://www.nationalamusements.com/home.asp
Don't forget to see foreign films!
Foreign films have subtitles so they've always been accessible to
people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Foreign films are culturally
enriching, which enhances the whole movie-going experience. Each
new country or genre provides a refreshing break from the formulaic
trend of popular movies here in the United States.
The Captioned Media Program,
a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, loans out
more than 4,000 open-captioned films and videos free of charge!
The program offers general interest, educational, and special interest
films delivered to your door with a prepaid return label. See their
Web site to view their catalog and learn the details of starting
a free loan account: http://www.cfv.org
http://www.chicagofilmfestival.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CIFFSite.woa/wa/pages/HomeEach October, the annual International
Film Festival in Chicago offers a whole program of American
Sign Language interpreted films and several during the year through
Cinema Chicago. To get on the Chicago International Film Festival's
mailing list for open-captioned or interpreted film events, email:
ADI, Audio Description International, supports and advocates increased
use of Audio Description (AD) in a variety of media around the world.
The members of AD International are both professional and amateur
Audio Describers, AD consumers, and those interested in promoting
the use of AD (See
our list of AD organizations around the world.)