Dear LA Teacher,
My son, a high school student at the Marlton School, is deaf. Whenever a new movie comes out, he has to wait for it to be released on video before he can watch and understand it. It’s just not fair for the movie industry to ignore the needs of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing. What’s being done about this?
Mother of a Deaf Son
Dear Mother of a Deaf Son,
I understand this problem too well. Eighteen years ago I was diagnosed with a severe progressive hearing loss. My experience at the movies went from enjoying a first run movie, to listening with headphones at a movie theater, to not going at all. I too have to wait for Blockbuster to shelve a newly released video of a movie I couldn’t understand at a theater. I am sick and tired of being left out of entertainment activities because closed captioning is rarely available.
Last week AMC Theaters announced plans to install personal captioning systems for deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers. The plan is to offer closed captioning for 127 screens in California by June 2012. They hope to top 500 screens by the end of 2013.
Here’s how the system works. Movie captions convey the dialogue, narration, and even musical cues in the form of a written text. These closed captions are relayed to guests who choose to receive them via a personal display device. So the deaf or hard-of-hearing patron can understand all movie auditory information in sync with the film.
To its credit, AMC has provided captioning in the past in the form of Rear Window Captioning. After a few tries I stopped going because the window provided by the theater was difficult to maneuver and too often tough to read. Hopefully, this new system will work great and other theaters will jump onto the bandwagon.
While we are talking about movies, I’m sure your son could appreciate “The Artist”. It’s about a fictitious silent film movie idol, George Valentin. During the premiere of his latest flick, he meets Peppy Miller, an aspiring actress. Sparks fly and Peppy is given a small role in George’s next film. Peppy’s career soars and George fears that the talkies will destroy his.
Why do I mention “The Artist”? It’s the first silent movie to come out of Hollywood in 80 years. It’s also in black and white and your son won’t need captioning. I plan on seeing it soon before Blockbuster grabs a hold of it.
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