Although most theaters provide amplifying headphones to customers, those are of little use to people with moderate or severe hearing impairment. Instead, Waldo said, customers with hearing impairment need to be able to read the dialogue, either through captions projected onto the screen or through another system in use at some Seattle theaters.The dream that we'd be able to go to any movie, any time and understand it. Well, then, I'm dreaming of a machine that will project explanations for the apparent plot holes and that will provide lists and charts to answer the usual questions like is that guy the same guy that was in that other scene and exactly why am I supposed to care that the Nazi learned to read.
In the second system, currently used at AMC Pacific Place 11 in Seattle and other area cinemas, the written dialogue is projected from the rear of the theater onto clear plastic panels affixed to hearing-impaired customers' seats. The captions aren't visible to anyone without a panel.
[According to John Waldo, an attorney with the Washington State Communication Access Project], captions are available for 80 percent to 90 percent of all films shown in Seattle-area theaters. The problem, he said, is that theaters only offer a limited number of shows with any kind of captioning available.
At best, he said, most theaters only offer one or two showings daily that include either type of captioning. Waldo hopes to change that, and insists that the theaters should at least offer captioned showings of each movie they play.
"The dream," he said, is "that we'd be able to go to any movie, any time and understand it."
February 17, 2009