Professionals from media came together to make accessibility improve at the movies for the deaf and the blind Dec. 2.

Katharine Kramer, daughter of Stanley Kramer, was the moderator and hostess at a brief event on Dec. 2 at the Egyptian Theatre where media professionals came together discussing how to improve accessibility at the movies for audience members who can’t hear or see well.

Marc Bovee, founder of GEMAI, ran the morning event.  See What I’m Saying’s Director Hilari Scarl, SignWorld TV’s founder CJ Jones, acting coach David Zimmerman, and playwright/poet Lynn Manning all were part of a panel answering questions.

Also, Nanci Ellis from CaptionFish, showed different methods of how captioning can be used at movie theaters.  Ellis is deaf who hears with two cochlear implants–she was late deafened herself.  Ellis mentioned how social media, the Internet, hearing technology, TTYs, and paging all have helped people with hearing loss to communicate with everyone.  Ellis said there are 39,600 screens but only 20,000 are captioned.

AMC and Regal will offer fully captioned movies at theaters at the end of 2013, Ellis said.

Scarl mentioned that she used open caption in her documentary, See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary.  Scarl said it was a great way of showing that open captions can help audience members to understand everything on screen, regardless to which language–spoken or signed–is used.

Also, Lynn Manning, who is blind himself, said that he needs to use video descriptive services to understand what is seen in the movie–which motivates him to attend movies at theaters, instead of staying at home.

Deaf actor CJ Jones said that he wants all movies at theaters to be captioned so that his wife won’t have to interpret for him when he watches movies with his young son.

I hope to laugh with my son at the movies with the help of captions from CaptionFish, Jones said.  His parents are deaf as well.

GLAD Inc’s Director of Public Relations Rachel Braver and Women In Film member Joann Dean both volunteered to interpret during the panel session.


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