Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Location: Raleigh, NC
|06 Dec 2005 10:43 am
Post subject: Technology helping blind, deaf enjoy movies
|Technology helping blind, deaf enjoy movies
Monday, December 5, 2005; Posted: 11:15 a.m. EST (16:15 GMT)
ALBANY, New York (AP) -- Did you catch the new movie that everyone's talking about at school and at work?
If you're visually or hearing impaired, there's a good chance you couldn't. But that's slowly changing.
Nationwide, more than 150 movie theaters have added special systems to help the deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, according to the nonprofit National Center for Accessible Media.
Most of those theaters are in major cities that made the move voluntarily, but states are now putting pressure on theater chains to spread the technology much farther or risk discrimination lawsuits.
In New Jersey, four movie theater chains agreed under pressure last year to install deaf-captioning technology in theaters statewide. The attorney general filed a discrimination complaint against a fifth chain that didn't go along.
A similar deal being announced in New York on Monday involves eight national theater chains. The chains agreed to implement technology to help the visually and hearing impaired enjoy movies in 140 theaters across the New York state -- up from about a dozen now.
"Movies are an important part of popular culture," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "Every adult and child should be able to enjoy a film with family and friends, especially during the holiday season."
Like those in the New Jersey agreement, the New York theaters will add Rear Window captioning, in which hearing disabled customers can use an acrylic panel to read captioning projected from the back of the theater.
They also will provide listening devices more compatible with hearing aids; most headsets used now for the disabled only amplify a movie's soundtrack.
Thirty-eight of the New York theaters will provide on-screen captioning of some movies and headsets that offer descriptive narration of films under the deal.
Representatives of Loews Entertainment Cineplex, AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment Group, three of the largest chains, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Email and phone messages left Friday were not returned by the others. In addition to Loews, AMC and Regal, the deal was agreed to by Carmike Cinemas, Clearview Cinemas, Dipson Theatres, National Amusements and Zurich Cinemas.
The American Foundation for the Blind said the measures are good for everyone involved -- by making theaters accessible, more customers will come.
"It's not only seeing it, it's understanding it," said Joseph Gordon of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People in New York City. He said people with even moderate hearing difficulties have trouble distinguishing between words like "tomato" and "potato."
"I think it's an extremely isolating factor," Gordon said. He said 2 million New Yorkers have hearing difficulties.
Spitzer, who is running for governor in 2006, said he started negotiating with the theater chains after receiving complaints from disabled New Yorkers.
The complaints appeared to show potential violations of state and federal laws against discrimination against disabled people, said Dennis Parker, chief of the attorney general's Civil Rights Bureau.
"It's not just being able to see a movie," Parker said. "It's the social situations ... the talk around the water cooler, and kids' conversations about movie openings."
So yeah, cool and all, everyone happy... except "states are now putting pressure on theater chains to spread the technology much farther or risk discrimination lawsuits."
I mean, maybe I'm just an asshole, but wtf? Movies are an audio-visual medium, all a theater should be required to do is project the image and play the sound, otherwise known as playing the movie for an audience. If they want to spend the money to expand their customer base, GREAT! But to throw discrimination lawsuits against them if they don't??
Fuck dancing. Lets talk about art.