Open-Captions at the Movies

Open-Captions at the Movies, Canada will you provide?

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Picture from Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Closed Captions is a hot button that continues to be discussed as we have learned that the United States largest movie theatre chain, AMC Theatre is adding open-captions at 240 locations. This is a phenomenal dream for many. They made an effort to make moviegoing more accessible. Open-captions are similar to subtitles, appear on the screen and cannot be turned off. Movie guests can search online which open-caption showtimes are available and get their tickets to attend.

This will make millions of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people happy, also those who struggle hearing in a loud theatre or often miss a dialogue can read the captions. It also benefits children learning their language or second language learners. 

Canada\’s Cineplex Entertainment has provided CaptiView, a digitally compatible closed caption device viewing system. It\’s a small captioning display unit with a flexible support arm that fits into the theatre seat\’s cup holder. The high construct on screen display is in their words \”easy to read \’\’ and comes with a privacy visor so it can be positioned directly in front of the theatre guest with minimal impact or distraction to neighbouring guests.

Unfortunately these devices have caused nothing but a headache for most. Most of the time the devices do not work, the guest would run to the front desk to resolve this as the movie is playing. The device may not connect the code to the movie properly, guests already missed half of the movie as the staff figuring things out or guests are informed that the prior staff has not recharged the device for the next movie guests.

As a movie going person in the past with full on screen access when attending Rochester Institute of Technology in New York (1995-2000), coming home to the CaptiView is a hit and miss. When the devices do work, the experience is a struggle. Reading the green screen to get the dialogue and then looking up at the big screen to see the actions, you either miss the action or the dialogue. It\’s not blended into the screen for easier viewing. A few times the devices crash on me, I take it to the front desk and wait until a staff member appears to either replace or fix the problem. No refunds because I was already in the theatre watching part of the movie. I would get a \”free movie next time stubs\”, I collected 5! I stopped going to theatres in the last 10 years. Missing out on many amazing movies and waiting for DVDs or plays on Netflix.

Local private owned movie theatres or drive-ins attempt to provide captions, open-captioned shows have been far and few between, and often at inconvenient times. Improving accessibility tends to improve the experiences of everyone, even members of the population who are not the primary target audience. Why aren\’t all movie theatres making the steps to be more inclusive?

Will Canada\’s Cineplex Entertainment follow AMC Theatre\’s footsteps? Inclusive programming to make open-captions available nationwide? People everywhere are using open-captions on their phone and at home, open-captions will help millions enjoy the movie more. 

I would love to join my family again to the movies! Access for All, Everyone Wins!

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