Westgarth Cinemas in Northcote, Victoria has been pressured by the local Deaf community to offer open captions. The cinema currently only offers closed captions on a few select movies in a single cinema using Captiview closed caption devices. The issue with CaptiView is that it is not a very favourable device amongst the Deaf community due to reliability issues in delivering captions and discomfort caused by prolonged switching between viewing the cinema screen and the small, close-up CaptiView device. This can make watching movies for the Deaf more difficult and less enjoyable. Taking this issue in to her own hands is Asphyxia, who is a Deaf blogger and has received a large amount of support after raising this issue on social media by posting her letter to Westgarth Cinemas on her Facebook page. Her post was shared over a hundred times.
Here is some of the feedback from the audience:
- “We are asking the cinema to do away with the closed caption system and simply provide open captions, which would be much more straightforward for the staff and would be more accessible for deaf people.”
- "My partner, who is hearing, and myself have tried to access films at least 10 times in the past 12 months, with no access offered on most occasions... (We) have only been able to actually sit and watch a movie twice at Westgarth, and on both occasions there were issues with CaptiView.” - Ms Ewing.
- “Can you imagine how p***ed off a group of hearing people would be if they came to see a movie and found out that the sound system wasn’t working … They would be outraged."
- “It shouldn’t be so hard to see a movie.
- “We may be deaf, but we don’t stop thinking or wanting to be part of society.”
Identified issues with Captiview:
- The cinema has limited Captiview devices, so not everyone gets to watch the movie with captions.
- When the device doesn't work, the deaf user has to find a cinema staff member and facilitate in a dark environment, which hinders communication, all while missing out on the movie that has already started.
- Some users do not wish to reveal that they are deaf and the current system requires them to personally request access to CaptiView from a staff member.
- Users need to constantly look back and forth from the cinema screen to the close-up Captiview device, which has caused eyesore, neck discomfort and headaches for some users.
- Staff are often unfamiliar with how the device operates.
- The device has been known to miss captions.
- The device is often not charged.
Westgarth Cinemas spokeswoman Caroline Whiteway said open captioned sessions had been trialled in the past, with no attendance. Ms Whiteway said one in five movie sessions at the Westgarth Cinemas was CaptiView compatible, but admitted the technology “can be temperamental."
If you have any feedback or suggestions for Westgarth Cinemas, send them an email: