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

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

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Jamie Berke started this petition to Movie Theaters

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. 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, so many (including discomfort) that we put the list at the bottom of this petition.**



Captions also benefit many others, such as kids learning to read and people learning English as a second language (longer list at bottom***), as discussed in the research article "Video Captions Are for Everyone." Plus, many people who do not have hearing loss enjoy watching streamed movies and TV with the subtitles on. The majority of people who use captions are NOT deaf or hard of hearing. These hearing people are very receptive to the idea of open captions in movie theaters.


While a growing number of theaters are willing to offer open captions, usually only poorly attended time slots are offered. (Then the open captions may be blamed for the low attendance without considering the times and dates.)  Theaters resist offering open captions during higher attendance times like Friday and Saturday nights, at a time when demand for subtitles is growing among young moviegoers. Your signature demonstrates to both theaters and legislators how much demand and support there is for open captions in movie theaters!

Legislation is STILL needed even though some theaters are voluntarily offering open captions. Voluntary means just that, voluntary. There's nothing to prevent theaters from deciding to cut back or drop open captions altogether. Only legislative requirements can protect access to open captions permanently. Voluntary is not good enough!

Because of public health risks, and growing demand from people without hearing loss as well as those with hearing loss, movie theaters need to give open captions a real chance with better dates and times. Normalize open captions and make them 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!

Want to experience open captions? Check the list to see if there is a theater near you possibly offering OC:


** List of Problems and Complaints About Closed Caption Devices:

  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 not have been recharged between users
  11. may be unsanitary
  12. theater staff may not know what to do with equipment
  13. can't stay in place without being held
  14. have to move it into position (seat-mounted devices)
  15. may bring unwanted attention to the user due to looking "different"
  16. can not be used by some people due to vision impairment.

*** list of people who benefit and benefits of captioning

  1. Kids learning to read (1) Kids learning to read (2)
  2. Autism (neurodivergent)
  3. Learning English as a second language
  4. Improves general literacy
  5. Auditory processing disorder or issues, such as auditory neuropathy
  6. Sensitivity to noise (hyperacusis), tinnitus, or meniere's
  7. Attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  8. Down syndrome (1), Down Syndrome (2)
  9. Starting to lose their hearing
  10. Traumatic brain injury
  11. Veterans with battle-acquired hearing loss
  12. Difficulty understanding dialogue when there is noise, mumbling, whispering, or accents. 
  13. Roommates or parents with young children
  14. Dyslexia
  15. Learning disabilities
  16. Wrist injuries that prevent them from being able to position a closed caption device
  17. Watching video content on personal electronic devices with the mute on
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