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Monday, June 11, 2012

What's the Big Idea, Sarah?

I saw my blogging friend Karen Putz recently and she asked "Sarah, what's next for you?" The last time she asked me something similar, I ended up going to Costa Rica with Discovering Deaf Worlds. As one of my role models, Karen seems to have an effect on me - pushing me forward to try something new. At the time she and I talked, I did not know it then, but I was about to launch a Big Idea.

Before I tell you what it is, let me share some background information. Ever since I became involved with the hard of hearing/deaf community, I've been learning about the importance of movie theater captioning. We want full access to first run films and it's been a l-o-n-g time coming our way. There have been some legal successes and promises of future technological improvements, but I wonder how much longer will it be before our vision of full access is realized?

As social chair for ALDA Chicago, it's my responsibility to organize social events on a monthly basis. Last year one member suggested having a dinner and a movie night, possibly in several locations to make it more convenient for our membership which covers a large geographic area. I'm ready to go forward with the idea. I like the thought of having a group of people come to a theater and by their presence say in effect, "Here we are, show us your accessibility!"

But the logistics are going to be problematic, I admit. I've done some online research and have only found one theater in the city (so far) that offers both OC and CC films on the same night. I want my group to have a choice after all just like the other patrons do! There's also the question of devices. If caption devices are needed, how many does a theater have available? The one I checked has ten which is great if our group numbers less than ten. But what about the eleventh person in line? Or the twelfth, etc...? Is this an idea before it's time?

That's why I'm bringing the idea to you. What if this dinner and a movie night were bigger than the Chicago area? What if other individuals or organizations joined us by going to visiting their local theaters? What if those of us who need captioning set aside a weekend night to go to a theater and say, "Show us your accessibility!"

ALDA Chicago will host this event in November 2012. If you're interested in having a similar event or you have thoughts on how this might work (or might not), please leave me a comment or contact me by email. I especially want to hear from you if you've tried an event this before or have tried contacting your local theaters about captioning.

I can plan a one time event at one theater in Chicago, but I'd like to see if this idea can get bigger than that. Will you join me?

Update June 13
I've heard from an organization in Kansas City that's interested!


Karen Putz said...

Awesome idea! I would love to see it all over the U.S. I dream of the day we can go to any movie, anywhere, at any time, and get complete access.

Hmm... what's next? Maybe the two of us should go skydiving? LOL

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Karen,
I hope it will catch on and go all over. I think staging an event like this would speed your dream along.

Skydiving - yikes. I would consider parasailing though.

Anonymous said...

A great article! That's exactly why we need to have all movies in theaters open captioned for everyone:


SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thank you, anonymous for sharing that article. It's appalling that someone would pull a fire alarm in response to a movie having open captions. More awareness, compassion, and inclusion are needed. Thanks again for your comment. Please watch my blog for further updates on this project.