Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Equal Access... even if it's crap!

I'm hard of hearing and I have trouble hearing the dialogue in many films so I often, though not always, need subtitles or to turn on the closed-captioning. Just 'going the pictures' and seeing whatever's playing means risking a wad of dough cos chances are I will not be able to understand the dialogue, I will lose the plot (haha) and experience ninety minutes of frustration and feelings of exclusion.

Most of the time, this hearing-related, movie-going thing is not much of an issue for me as I prefer my own comfy sofa and a DVD (with the captions on) over going out. Though, once in a while I do crave the big screen.

Even with that occassional personal craving and the knowledge that other people who are hard of hearing or who are deaf/Deaf also would like to see a flic on the big screen, I have to be honest... I have struggled with the idea of campaigning for cineplexes, movies theatres, cinemas to be legislated into providing captioning.

One reason is that I believe that I have personally benefited from having a limited access to all the crap that comes out of the Hollywood machine and similar ilk. I have seen very many subtitled foreign films, saved a lot of cash that would have otherwise lined a megatroncinematicmegacomplex owner's pocket and I've developed other interests away from audio-visual media. And isn't it just enough that the movie houses are not providing a functional product (for me) so I've decided that they aren't going to get any of my money? Aren't there more subversive options available here than accepting that megatroncinematicmegacomplexes have such a grip on our entertainment needs?

I was mentioning this is a friend and she responded simply with: you snob.

Hmm... upsinged!

After I mulled that one over. I have to admit that she is right. Who the fuck am I to decide how other people entertain themselves? And how did I become so arrogant? Still, I think I do have a point, even if many people do not understand what I mean. ;-)

Back to captioning campaigns, I'm still not completely sure where I stand on this, so comments would be appreciated.

Anyways, while reading up on captioning, I came across this post on Sarah's blog (Speak Up Librarian). It's about Bill Creswell - a hearing man who is is "captioning the Internet one video at a time". Good man.

And I found this on YouTube.... :-D


  1. Interesting post. And I don't think for one second that you're a snob or that you are guilty of expectations beyond your requirements. Deafness and hard of hearing people suffer in similar ways to those suffering other non visible problems in life. I'm thinking of those with mental health problems or the blind( or visually impaired). I suffer from hearing problems too, although it's just my right ear wich is fecked, so I have some understanding of what you mean. I don't know about Canada but in the UK virtually every TV prog has subtitles, which is great. Most cinemas have loop systems for the hard of hearing. My friends just shout at me!

  2. They should be required to caption per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    That said, I am exactly like you; I won't go to the theater unless my son wants to me to take him.

    And I love seeing foreign films and captioned movies in my own home theater.

  3. Neil's loop system thing is well worth checking out. Most cinemas in Edinburgh have them and i'll betcha (see what i did there - or is that an Americanism?) they'll have them in Vancouver too.

  4. I totally feel you here. There is 1 movie theatre in my area that has captioned movies and it is usually something that has been out for awhile or I'm not interested in. A few times when we went to the movies we had to tell them to actually turn the captioning on. They always seem to forget. Dum-dum heads.

    I was going to mention a loop system, would that help you? And I was going to mention reading Sarah's blog, she is a advocate for captioning at movie houses. But, you know these things already.

    For now, I'm like you, I prefer to watch most movies in the comfort of my own home. But occasionally a good movie will catch my eye. I believe "Milk" was the last one the wife and I saw. (Excellent btw!!)

    The USA has its issues as well with this whole captioning mess.

  5. re subtitles. yes UK Tv is getting better at subtitles but only on the main companies. bbs/itv others forget even if it is a repeat of a previously subtitled programme. For some of us who can hear the sound but not the words, - increasing sound, sadly, does NOT help. but - as someone said to me recently "at least I am not blind", for which I thank God.

  6. Thanks for your comments.

    John, I don't know much about the ADA (I'm a Canuck) but I think, in Canada, movie theatres are left to their own devices, except for physical access. So, in the US, movies theatres are legislated to provide captioning? Do they comply? How does it work in real life?

    T-loops. There are a few problems with loop systems: compared to Britain, it's not widely used in North America (called t-coil) and for movies, generally, it's pants anyways. The source of the problem is with the background noise and music within the film's soundtrack itself. Making the entire soundtrack louder does not help. In fact, it physically hurts. This might not make sense to people who can hear well.

    This has got me thinking that captions are perhaps a better assistance in cinemas/movie theatres... ?

    Yes, jelly, I agree. Milk was very good.

  7. I didn't even notice that you were Canadian. I'm sorry, my American arrogance assumes everyone is in the US. ( I should be more careful, as I have Canadian roots)

    The US is the same way as Canada, left to the theatre's discretion, but I believe the ADA could be used to force the issue but someone will have to sue.

  8. A late entry from me

    Movie theatres are supposed to provide captions in Ontario. They just don't. The nearest place I can view with captions is an hour away. Tswitches and loop systems are useless for me, evene when my hearing was better I still couldnt manage as they were never set up properly.

    I am having a letter published in the CHHA magazine soon about captions etc, so I agree with your rant.