May the Captions Be With You

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Grossing $248 million domestically in just its opening weekend alone, more and more fans will continue to flock to movie theaters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the Star Wars movie franchise.

Star Wars fans come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures. However, the film is unfortunately not accessible for all in some places.

At a local theater in San Antonio, Texas, they do not provide closed captioning or subtitling accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing communities. They do provide a listening device, but it is only helpful for those with mild hearing loss.

The issue was brought to light the day before the release of the film by Miss San Antonio Emma Rudkin, who is deaf. The theater responded with a statement claiming that they would be showing The Force Awakens with open captions, however, it would only be that one showing. Rudkin expressed her disappointment in an interview with KSAT with only being able to see the film at a certain time and location, and does not want to feel “singled out or discriminated against.”

Cinemark theaters list movie titles that have closed captions and/or audio description listed on their website, but state, “Not all titles are available at all locations. Titles available for a limited time only. Check the Cinemark theatre web page, call the theatre, or visit the theatre box office for a full list of films playing at the theatre.”

AMC theaters offer a special device called the CaptiView, which allows moviegoers the flexibility to view movies at any showing with captions (provided the film comes to them with captions). Here are the directions from AMC’s website: “Simply secure it in your cupholder, then adjust the flexible arm of the device to your viewing angle. Once your movie begins, the CaptiView will present all dialogue in text on the screen.”

While this option could be expensive for smaller, locally owned theaters, it does provide access for all moviegoers at any given time.

As for the theater in San Antonio, they’re looking into more captioning options suitable for their community, as should all movie theaters to make enjoyment of film accessible for all.

By Brittany Bender