The moviegoing experience can often be fraught for those who are hard of hearing or deaf. Even though captioning devices are thankfully becoming more available in theaters they have their downfalls (faulty devices, inaccurate captions, etc.). Movie theaters are offering different options for hearing accessibility. It’s just important to know the difference between terms commonly used, especially when asking for additional services.
Captioning: The process of converting audio into text that displays on a screen. It helps those who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoy media that uses audio as well as visuals. Captioning includes dialogue and sound cues.
Open Captions (OC): Includes dialogue and sound cues and cannot be removed from the picture (not a feature that can be turned on or off as they are permanently put on the film). All viewers see the open captions.
Closed Captions (CC): The more commonly known captioning. A feature that can be turned on or off. Closed captions include dialogue and sound cues. In public places like movie theaters there are often devices available for customers who need them and therefore not everyone sees the captions on the screen (as they appear on the captioning device only).
Subtitles: Language translations of another language on the screen (e.g. English language translation of a foreign language movie). Subtitles don’t include sound cues.
Other terms to know regarding hearing accessibility:
CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation): A government-mandated real time live transcription service. Find out more here.
We recommend checking your local theater or theater chains to see what accessibility features they have.
Here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area most movie theaters have some hearing accessibility devices. CaptiView seems to be the most common. (CaptiView is a device that fits in the cup holder and displays closed captions. Find out more here.) Some Emagine theater locations offer Open Caption showings on Sundays and Wednesdays (see their website for movies available and locations).
Other accessibilty-related things to check out:
Described Caption Media Program (DCMP): A website and app that provides a library of captioned educational videos.
3PlayMedia: A transcription and Closed Captioning company out of Boston that has a blog that is updated regularly with important information usually regarding laws passed that help with hearing accessibility.
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