We have an even greater respect for deaf actress Marlee Matlin after reading her column on the Chicago Sun-Times website today. In her column, Matlin urges cinema bosses in the US to do more to make films accessible for customers with hearing disabilities.
The spokesperson for America’s National Association of the Deaf, Matlin explains how difficult seeing a movie is for her family.
She writes, “Here’s how the drill goes at my house: The kids are clamoring to see a hot movie; Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-minus! Great, let’s see where it’s playing. Wow, just a mile from the house. Fine, but let me see if there are available screenings with subtitles because in my case, that’s the only way I can understand the film."
"But when I check the listings, I find that showings available with captions … are all located 10 or 15 miles away. Even more puzzling, the screening times don’t make sense: 11 a.m., 10:45 p.m. Somehow, popcorn before lunchtime doesn’t taste as good, and 10:45 p.m. for this mom and four kids is out of the question.”
So a fun-filled day at the movies turns into a silent venture for Matlin.
She adds that the technology to make movies more accessible is available if companies want to distribute it. She explains that Sony provides glasses that have subtitles in the glasses to viewers watching digital formats of movies, so they have the opportunity to help their deaf audience as well.
However, she explains how limited the technology is, saying, “But Sony is only making 500 pairs a month. At that rate, I might be able to see 'Men in Black 24' when it comes out in 2019.”
Please Sony, help her! Help the 35 million deaf Americans who want to go to the movies and hear it!
But don’t worry Marlee, we’ll definitely watch that movie in 2019 with you.
J-Connection: Marlee Matlin is of Russian Jewish descent. She was able to have her Bat Mitzvah by learning Hebrew phonetically.