Athena Cinema Introduces “Open Caption Mondays”< < Back to
In conjunction with Disability Awareness Month, The Athena Cinema is introducing a new initiative to expand accessibility options for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons.
Many theaters, including the Athena, already offer the option to view films with closed captions but this new option will introduce weekly screenings on Mondays of some new release films with open captions.
The difference between the two methods is that “open” captions are visible on screen to all patrons and do not require any special equipment or devices, similar to subtitles, while “closed” captions are seen through an individual device given to the patron.
These new open caption screenings will offer a new alternative to patrons. Many films are not produced with captioning capability, so patrons must still check to see which films will be shown with open captions on Mondays.
In addition to the introduction of these weekly screenings, the Athena also announced that it will be adding two new CaptiView® Closed Captioning devices, bringing the total available to three. These devices, also known as “cup holder devices” can be used to view closed captions. The theater also offers four Fidelio Wireless Audio System devices that can provide descriptive narration for those with vision impairments, as well as assist persons with hearing impairments.
“It is important that all of our customers have a positive experience at the Athena,” said Director Alexandra Kamody. According to Kamody, the theater has faced challenges in locating reliable equipment, implementing on-going staff training with their large student staff and finding ways to communicate with customers about what is available. She said that the technology is constantly changing and there are other industry limitations, since most films on 35 mm did not offer any captioning. Also, the new DCP format still doesn’t offer theaters captioning capability on many films.
Despite these limitations, the theater staff is dedicated to providing inclusive theater-going experiences for everyone, according to Kamody. In addition to the new devices and weekly screenings on Mondays, the theater also frequently brings in foreign films that are subtitled. “It is not a perfect solution, but it is one more option,” she says, adding that many of the independent filmmakers and smaller distributors do not offer captioning on their films. The theater staff is hopeful that the open caption screenings will also attract students for whom English is their second language.
Because some films are not device-enabled, Kamody encourages patrons to visit the Athena Cinema website to check availability on individual films. Films that offer captioning and audio assistance capabilities will list this information. Patrons are also encouraged to check the box office phone recording for information at 740-592-5106. The Athena plans to introduce new icons on their website and print materials to identify CV, OC, AD and AL (CaptiView® Closed Captioning, Open Captioned, Audio Description and Assistive Listening) in the coming months.
The first “Open Caption Monday” is slated to take place on March 14 with The Witch, The Lady in the Van and 45 Years.
Athena Accessibility Acronym Glossary:
OC – Open Captioned – The movie’s text is superimposed over the screen images.
CV – CaptiView® Closed Captioning – The CaptiView system consists of a small OLED display on a bendable support arm that fits into the theater seat cup holder. The easy-to-read screen is equipped with a high contrast display that comes with a privacy visor so it can be positioned directly in front the movie patron with minimal impact or distraction to neighboring patrons.
ST – Subtitled – Textual versions of the dialogue are displayed in English on the bottom of the screen.
AD – Audio Description – Headset delivers personal narration throughout the film. The Fidelio system works wirelessly in theater enabling blind and visually impaired moviegoers to hear the descriptions on headsets from any seat in the theater.
AL – Assistive Listening-Headset amplifies the film’s audio. The Fidelio system works wirelessly in the theater amplifying the film’s audio to any seat in theater.