Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) has re-introduced legislation that would require movie theaters show a certain number of films with open captions to ensure the movie-going experience is accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing residents who often don’t have viable ways to enjoy a trip to the movies.
“I think many DC residents are excited to return to the movies after nearly two years away. But there’s a large group of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing for whom movies simply aren’t doable – and the fix isn’t all that complicated. We can add captions to more showings and suddenly more people can enjoy a film,” said Councilmember Charles Allen. “Additionally, open captions can improve the moviegoing experience for seniors, military veterans and others who experienced hearing loss, and families with young children who find the text helps children focus.”
The Open Movie Captioning Requirement Act of 2022 would require a certain percentage of showings of open captioned movies shown at the District’s movie theaters to ensure the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community can enjoy the accessibility of a trip to the movies. The impetus of the bill dates back several years when a group called the DC Deaf Moviegoers met with Councilmember Allen to highlight the challenge and frustration with trying to enjoy a trip to the movies using the current accommodations.
Erik Nordlof, Reema Bogin, and Brianne Burger, members of DC Deafmoviegoers & Allies, added: “DC Deaf Moviegoers & Allies wholeheartedly supports this much-needed legislation, which will ensure true accessibility for those of us who have been left out of the moviegoing experience. The bill contributes to making Washington, DC an inclusive city for people of all backgrounds and communication capabilities.”
The bill takes a tailored approach, recognizing not all patrons will want to watch a movie with captions – only 12 percent of a movie’s weekly scheduled showings would need to include open captions. There are seven co-introducers for the bill: Councilmembers Allen, Nadeau, Lewis George, Cheh, Henderson, Silverman, and Robert White
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