Feature Writer John Christie – Blind and Deaf Groups Want to See Captioning in All Types of Media Become Commonplace
On May 14, 2012 the Senate Help Committee held a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to amend The Americans with Disability Act so that the deaf could have more captioning of movies and the blind could have more movies video described. One group that is against having movies accessible to the blind and deaf are the movie theater owners. John Fithian, President and CEO of The National Association of Theater Owners said that they strongly oppose the new legislation and rules. He also said that the association doesn’t want to go to court and spend money on lawyers. He also stated that 53 percent of digital screens in movie theaters are accessible. Fithian also said that the reason why more digital screens aren’t more accessible to the blind and deaf is because the equipment is being manufactured slowly. Brian Charlson, who is the Chair of ACB’s Information Access Committee, said that with 25 million Americans with vision loss we need video description. It is the key to our culture. It provides the blind and visually impaired information about our culture that is on the screen. If we didn’t have video description, a blind or visually impaired person would miss out on a lot of our culture that is primarily visual. Charlson also asked for this to be provided on airline and internet videos. He also felt that we should have standardized equipment so that anyone can use devices and equipment right away and not have to figure out what works and how.
Andrew Phillips of a deaf organization called NAD said that the deaf like open captioning. He also said that a lot of the equipment that is used for captioning in movie theaters is cumbersome to use. Phillips also said that the airline industry has done a terrible job with captioning. This is unfortunate because programs have been captioned elsewhere. They just have to be passed through. Phillips also stated that the vast majority of segmented news programs are not captioned along with news video clips. He also said that the Boston Marathon coverage was not closed captioned. There were also representatives there from the FCC and U.S. Department of Justice.
Both the deaf and the blind feel that captioning and video description should be as common as an able bodied person seeing a picture on TV or a movie or video. Maybe someday in the near future, it will be. It can’t come soon enough especially when the baby boomers are getting older and beginning to have health problems such as vision and hearing issues.