Movie Theaters - Open Captions (Subtitles) Are Healthier for Everyone!

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Open captions are HEALTHIER for everyone because of no-contact accessibility!

Closed captioning equipment to allow the viewing of hidden captions is available, but that equipment requires TOUCHING. Users must touch either captioning glasses, or seat-mounted equipment. With open captions, there is no touching!

What are open captions (subtitles)? Open captions are on-screen text dialogue. Open captions let deaf and hard of hearing people enjoy movies the same way as hearing people do. (Many hearing people also benefit from open captions, as seen below.) Some people with hearing loss do like closed captioning equipment, but given a choice, the majority will choose open captions because closed caption equipment has multiple issues:

  1. often uncomfortable
  2. may cause eyestrain
  3. dizziness
  4. headaches
  5. malfunctions
  6. drop lines
  7. show the wrong captions
  8. may repeat lines
  9. batteries die
  10. may be unsanitary
  11. can't stay in place without being held
  12. can not be used by some people due to vision impairment.

As a result of the above issues, most users of captions prefer open captions. 

OPEN CAPTIONS ARE FOR EVERYONE!

Captions also benefit many others, as discussed in the research article "Video Captions Are for Everyone:"

  • Kids learning to read
  • People with autism
  • People learning English as a second language
  • People with auditory processing disorder or issues
  • People with sensitivity to noise (hyperacusis), tinnitus, or meniere's
  • Some people with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Some people with down syndrome or learning disabilities
  • People starting to lose their hearing
  • Veterans with battle-acquired hearing loss
  • People who have difficulty understanding dialogue when there is noise, mumbling, whispering, or accents. 
  • People with roommates or parents with young children 

Plus, many young adults today grew up exposed to closed captions (mom and dad always turned the closed captions on the TV) so now they are in the habit of using captions or actually prefer captions! And many people like watching streamed movies and TV shows with the subtitles on. 

Some theaters are very willing to show open captioned movies. Unfortunately,  many theaters are not willing to offer open captions despite pleas from people with hearing loss. When open captioned movies are requested, requests may be denied or only poorly attended time slots are offered.

When blockbusters open, generally less than 2 percent of theaters nationwide will offer them open captioned. This happened with Joker, Avengers Endgame, and Star Wars RoS. It is also common for requests for open captioned screenings on opening weekends to be denied.

Before the pandemic, there was an effort under way to get laws in states and cities to require open captions as an additional option in movie theaters. Hawaii already has such a law, which took effect on July 1, 2019. Your signature demonstrates to legislators how much demand and support there is for open captions in movie theaters! Currently there are bills in:

  • Virginia
  • Washington, DC
  • Maryland

For public health reasons and fairness reasons, we call on movie theaters to give open captions a real chance with better dates and time slots. Make open captions a standard option alongside closed captions. Most importantly, we call on movie theaters to stop looking at open captions as being only for deaf and hard of hearing people, and start looking at open captions as being for everyone!

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Open Caption Petitions are Around the Globe! Even if you don't live in those countries you can still sign their petitions because what if you visited those countries and wanted to see a movie there?

  1. Marvel Studios - Open Caption the Eternals for Everyone! https://tinyurl.com/eternalsoc4all
  2. Australia: OC at Hoyts https://tinyurl.com/hoytsocnow
  3. UK: More Reasonable OC times https://tinyurl.com/ukocnow
  4. Canada: OC in Canadian Theatres https://tinyurl.com/canadaocnow