Tell the DOJ that Open Captioned Movies Must be Considered

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Off-Screen Captioing is Separate and Unequal
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking the public to provide comments about their definition of Public Accommodation in movie theaters related to captioning and audio description.  We are urging everyone to call for rules supporting open-captioned movies to be displayed on movie screens when a Deaf or hard of hearing individual requests it in order to give equal access to all movie goers.

Right now movie theaters are not required to provide on screen captioning and DOJ has been avoiding any discussion of on screen captioning. Currently individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing must request a pair of “captioning glasses” at the movie theater in order to watch a movie.

This means that instead of buying a ticket and going into a movie, people with hearing disabilities must buy a ticket, then go to a counter and ask for permission to use a pair of “captioning glasses” just so they can understand the movie, hope there are captioning glasses available, show their ID, then enter the theater and put on the captioning glasses that many find to be uncomfortable, and often do not work.

Any hearing person can go to the movie of their choice at any time. Hearing people do not have to ask for permission to use uncomfortable and unreliable devices just to understand the movie, nor do they have to show ID.

Off-screen captioning devices do not give Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals equal access and the DOJ must not allow for this kind of discrimination.

Most Deaf and hard of hearing individuals prefer on-screen captioning.  Furthermore, one survey shows that many hearing people do not mind captioning, some even prefer captioning! Tell the DOJ that they need to put on-screen open captioning as priority of rulemaking discussions.

Contact the DOJ and tell them that open-captioned movies should be available by request for every movie at all times.  Along with your story, feel free to use any of the following talking points:

  • Analog movie screens should be using Digital Captioning Projectors (DCP) to display captions on their screens.  Digital movie screens already have a built-in device that will display captioning by simply pushing a button. The cost for DCP is the same as buying one off-screen captioning device.  At the same time, having captions on digital movie screens are free.
  • Off-screen devices, such as captioning glasses identify people with disabilities, which is inappropriate and unequal.
  • People who need captioned movies who already use vision-correcting glasses would have to wear two pairs of glasses at the same time.  Those who go to 3D movies would literally have to wear three pairs of glasses at the same time.  Does this make sense?
  • Going to the movies is a traditional activity one does on a date.  Having to utilize off-screen captioning devices is awkward and unfair.

Currently, the DOJ is not even considering on-screen captioning. 

We need to send comments to the DOJ to push for stronger rules to support open-captioned movies to be displayed on movie screens when anyone requests it in order to give equal access to all movie goers.  On-screen captioning provides us with a truly integrated movie theater so that everyone can have the same positive experiences.

You can send your comment to the DOJ at the link below:!documentDetail;D=DOJ-CRT-2014-0004-0001

(the Comment Now button is to the right)

Share this notice on your favorite social media outlet!

Thank you,

Dean DeRusso
Deaf Systems Advocate
Regional Center for Independent Living (RCIL)

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