This Oscar-Winning Film Featured Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. So Why Aren’t More Theaters Accessible?

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: National Association of Theatre Owners

This year, the Oscar for Best Picture went to CODA, a film telling the story of the only hearing member of a deaf family and the family members' relationships with each other. Keeping deaf movie theater goers in mind, Apple released the movie with open captions, which are essentially on-screen subtitles. Deaf and hard of hearing people have asked for higher-quality captioning in theaters for years. While releasing one movie with open captions is a step in the right direction, why isn't this more widely available in 2022?

Deaf and hard of hearing people have a right to experience going to the movie theater. Sign the petition to make theaters more accessible by providing open captions on future films!

While the Americans with Disabilities Act requires movies in the U.S. to provide closed captioning, which are usually captions on a small screen device, many deaf and hard of hearing people consider open captions -- which appear on the big screen -- the easiest way to watch a movie.

It can be a struggle to find a movie with open captions at a reasonable time. Movie theaters don't usually offer an open-captioned version for every movie, and when they do, those films are shown at strange hours.

Lawmakers in some states are starting to show promise when it comes to requiring open captions in movie theaters. Recently, Washington D.C. councilmembers introduced a new bill requiring a minimum number of open captions in movie theaters. The New York City Council passed a similar bill in 2021, and Hawaii in 2019.

Just as exciting, last year, AMC Entertainment -- the largest movie theater chain in the world -- started offering open captioning at 240 locations in the U.S. After CODA's Oscar win, AMC is screening the film in over 600 U.S. locations with open captions.

Let's continue this trend and urge the National Association of Theatre Owners to increase the requirement of open-captions in movie theaters across the U.S. Partaking in art and entertainment isn't just a right of hearing folks. All people should have the right to easily enjoy films in theaters! Sign the petition to make movie theaters more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing folks!

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