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

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Open captions are for everyone!


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(Links to other Open Caption petitions globally at bottom.)

What are open captions? 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.) 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 not be used by some people due to vision impairment.

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

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.

As an example, the Avengers: Endgame movie.  Several requests from open caption organizers for OC screenings of this movie on opening weekend were denied. The same thing will probably happen with the next Star Wars movie. 


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 sensitivity to noise
  • Some people with attention deficit disorder
  • Some people with down syndrome, learning disabiities, or auditory processing issues
  • People starting to lose their hearing
  • Veterans with battle-acquired hearing loss
  • People who have difficulty understanding dialogue when there is noise, mumbling, or accents

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. 

There is 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!

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!


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!
  2. Australia: OC at Hoyts
  3. UK: More Reasonable OC times
  4. Canada: OC in Canadian Theatres