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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Local Hearing Loss Support Group to Tackle Theatre Captioning

Timing is everything. And being in the right place at the right time.

Recently Eddie has been reporting on efforts in Kentucky to have theatres show captioned films. Then Kim spoke out about how she would like to have captioned films shown at her neighborhood cinema. At my request Kim posted the letter she wrote to the theatre manager. I vowed to do the same. But I also wanted to thank the theatre in my area (30 minute drive away) that offers captions and ask for more show times.

Then I got started writing my series on making online education accessible and the letters to the theatres slid to the back burner. Until today when I showed up at my local hearing loss support group meeting. It was an event that I had legitimate excuses for missing. I would have to arrive late because my son had a basketball game scheduled. I had been ill this week and missed 1 and 1/2 days of work. I had a migraine and felt awful. Despite all this I went.

Why? Because I need support. I need interaction with others in the same situation. But most of all, because today a terrific speaker was scheduled I couldn't wait to meet. Who was it? Sheri Caveda of Fifth Freedom, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping disability support groups learn how to make a difference in their local areas.

Lori Lakes, [me], Betty Beck, and Sheri Caveda of Fifth Freedom

Sheri and her team worked with our group to develop a mission statement and find a small project to begin making our community more accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. Amazingly, the group consensus was to contact the theatre that offers captioned films and request more showings. Our plan of action is to write individual letters which will emphasize our different requests (some group members want PG/PG-13 movies not just R rated films offered; I want to see the captioned films sooner; others want weekend showings.) We will submit our letters to Sheri and her team for their feedback, send a copy to our group leader, mail our revised letters, and report back to our group leader when they've been mailed. We have a timeline for the project and accountability to each other to follow through in what we've promised.

Next our group leader will contact the theatre manager to open up a negotiation for increased showings. If that meeting is unsuccessful, Sherri has additional steps we can take as a group.

As this project unfolds, I'll keep you updated on our progress. And post my own letter, cross my heart.


billcreswell said...

The MoPix installation at our theatre happened because a coalition of blind and deaf called MoPix West Michigan got together and raised (half?) money for the installation costs.

Unfortunately, the rear window captioning doesn't prove very satisfying to the deaf, and it doesn't receive a lot of support.

Deaf like open captions (so do I), but Open Caption showing are almost completely exclusively deaf, and are not received well by many hearing folks who are the majority of the audience.

I want to have a flash mob ( ready for anytime I can get an open caption in, to show support for them.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

It's good to hear about your success story in Michigan.
I wonder how we can broaden the appeal of open captions?
Love your idea about supporting the open caption films. Thanks for sharing!

Glenice said...

Very interesting. I look forward to following your progress.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thank you Glenice. I'll keep you updated.