We are behind in offering equal opportunity to those with disabilities. The deaf and hard of hearing population is excluded from enjoying movies in theaters the same way the hearing do. As a hard of hearing person, I have experienced the issues first-hand, and I offer a solution.
Currently, local movie theaters offer closed captioning devices that hide captioning from the rest of the audience. The devices are faulty. They provide spotty or no captions, and are often uncharged, or broken. The captioning glasses are heavy, uncomfortable and provide small text which is especially difficult to read if you move your head. The Captiview panel devices cover up some of the screen and use one of the cup holders. I don’t remember the last time one of these devices worked through the whole movie, and I’m an avid moviegoer.
Yet, theaters use these devices to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act. The deaf and hard of hearing are not receiving equal accommodations for goods or services offered at movie theaters.
Being deaf or hard of hearing at the movies is an ordeal. We are the other. Singled out and demeaned by the services offered. We are forced to have captions out of sight and out of mind, a separate and unequal practice.
With open captioning, the deaf and hard of hearing can enjoy movies on a level field. Captions are provided on the screen which the whole audience sees. No more stigma and no more faulty devices.
Some theaters in Utah are providing open captions, but they are infrequent and limiting. Catching a movie on an exact date and time chosen by a movie theater is difficult for anyone. That is, if the movie is being offered with open captioning at all. Equal access isn’t just equal possibilities, but equal opportunities.
Hawaii’s new law, Act 154, “Requires a movie theater to provide at least two showings per week per movie offered with open movie captioning. Removes the option for a movie theater to provide eyewear to fulfill the open movie captioning requirement. Makes the open captioning requirement permanent.”
Two showing per week per movie is a good start, and more than we are receiving in Utah. I think we can do better. The deaf and hard of hearing should be given as many choices as a hearing customer.