From Little Things Like Us, Big Things Can Grow. [ACTION ON CINEMA ACCESS]

The recent Captioned Cinema Exemption protest has stirred a huge response. The hard work of Deaf Australia and Deafness Forum promoting cinema access was mocked by the cinema chains who offered us a pittance in return and claimed they were being “generous”. So generous in fact, we were not allowed to make a complaint against them for two and a half years.

This exemption proposal might have gone unnoticed if not for the keen eyes of Arts Access Victoria.

They were able to pass on the exemption information and interpret it in easy English format to the public and harness support. Perhaps it was how they broadcast the news through email and Youtube.

Perhaps it was the people they chose to pass on the information to the masses. Most importantly, perhaps it was how they showed us that this exemption was wrong and why it was wrong, and their indignation sparked a flame inside of us. Instead of the defeatist attitude that we and our organisations often take, we were challenged to assess what our dignity and humanity were worth.

In a nutshell, we declared ourselves better than the patronising tripe the cinema chains were feeding us and the letters of protest to Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC formerly HREOC) began in earnest. At least 450 of them.

Instead of the defeatist attitude that we and our organisations often take, we were challenged to assess what our dignity and humanity were worth.

Arts Access Victoria organised a community forum in Melbourne. It was unfortunate that such forums were not held Interstate. It really is a matter of who is guiding the ship and the Arts Access Victoria captain, Ms Veronica Pardos, rose to the occasion. From that forum a meeting was organised to plan a multi-pronged attack.

The first point of attack was an e-postcard to be sent to Ministers of Parliament. This is an election year and targeting the Ministers that ARHC is accountable to is a judicious decision. Secondly, protests are being held all over Australia (with the exception of Darwin and Canberra) on Saturday 13th February at 11am at various venues.

A reasonable amount of secrecy over the venues was necessary so that cinema chains were not aware of where the protests will occur and shut us down before we begin. This is now public information and the venues for the protests can be seen at the Arts Access Victoria Website . Other links can be found at the end of this article. Check them out!

It is essential that we succeed!

So what exactly is being protested?

The rights of Deaf and hearing impaired Australians, young and old, to enjoy captioned access to any movie, at any location and at any time. No more watching only the movies chosen for us, and no more picking one of three possible and very unfriendly session times at only one location at best.

We are also protesting for audio description for Blind or vision impaired Australians.They also have not been granted access and while they can hear dialogue and sounds on the screen, they need an audio description of who is talking, movements of actors and other visual imagery pivotal to the story.

From little things, big things grow.

So if you are a Deaf, hearing impaired, Blind or vision impaired person, have a friend or family member who is also Deaf, hearing impaired, Blind or vision impaired, come and protest with us. Protest for our rights to have dignity and access to the same recreational activities that others take for granted.

Remember, from little things, big things grow. Make this grow and take a life on its own! We and future generations will thank you!

To find out more information about the protests, you will need to be a Facebook member. Search the group Action-On-Cinema-Access and join to become a member. Once accepted, you will receive information about the protest locations. You can spread this to your family, friends and work colleagues.

See you all there waving a placard!!

Related Links:

Community Protest Locations Announced

Action on Cinema Access

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23 thoughts on “From Little Things Like Us, Big Things Can Grow. [ACTION ON CINEMA ACCESS]

  1. What you’re asking for is already technically obsolete. It is difficult to be enthusiastic about supporting a lost cause that wouldn’t bring any great benefit even if you got your way.

    When eveyone has their own display, like iPhones and other mobiles, all we need is time synchronized caption information, then we can go to any and all screenings with no special accomodation needs at all.

    To me, that is a much better solution than this old fashioned and up front expenditure solution you’re demanding other people pay to implement.

  2. Steve,

    Your suggestion has merit. However we are simply tired of waiting. And I would much prefer to see a movie with my family than all of us huddled around a little screen.
    And the bigger picture is, why can they and we can’t? That is what we are protesting. They can see a movie anywhere and anytime. They can see a 3D movie anywhere and anytime. They can use Gold Class facilities anywhere and anytime. They can choose to go with friends and families anywhere and anytime and factor in the cheapest cost.
    We can’t go anywhere nor anytime.
    We can’t use 3D anywhere nor anytime.
    We can’t use Gold Class anywhere nor anytime.
    And I don’t even go to movies with my three sons because I just hate sitting them guessing the storyline. And we love movies. And when we do attend a captioned movie together I have to pay premium costs, I have to travel 120km, and it’s bloody hard to fit it in with their limited screening.

    That’s quality recreation time many take for granted. I don’t and it’s being denied me.

    So a little iPhone thingamingy is a great idea but not for everyone. If we could have that and captioned cinema together, we all have a choice and we all have access.

  3. I second Marnie’s comments wholeheartedly.

    While the idea of an iPhone style screen so that all cinema patrons can be independent is a viable option, I cannot think of anything more frustrating than having to hold up a little screen just so that I can read the small text and try and follow the action at the same time.

    It would like trying to text and drive at the same time (which incidentally, is illegal). RSI and OH&S would be an issue if there weren’t proper holders or similar to place the iPhone style screens in.

    There has been mention of blind people potentially bringing in their own FM headsets which can be tuned to a local channel to pick up audio description overlay. This is a much more feasible idea than limiting the number of headsets available in a cinema to say, 3 or so… the recommended number is 10.

    There are similar technology options such as digital (which would be next to nothing to run) or rear-window captioning which will involve a bit more investment, but would allow a number of deaf people to see captions without the captions actually being shown on the big screen.

    Steve, what’s been your experience thus far? Have you been lobbying yourself? Perhaps you can tell us what didn’t work, and what might work if there was more power to support you?

    The power is here now, as people are united and ready to rattle the cages.

  4. There are no excuses because today, we have the most advanced technologies ever. In my personal view, we should be able to set up a project called Captioned Cinema’s Innovation or whatever you called it. This is the only way where everyone gets involved. Gets the brain storming people to become a steering committee rather than get someone from the Deaf organisations. The sponsor of the project should be either the group of cinema companies or the government, or both. Over the years, I and others are having trouble accessing or receiving the information of what the ‘Deaf’ organisations are doing with the Cinema companies, really I have no idea in what they are doing. I hope they are not trying to score a political point against the Cinema companies, or otherwise it’ll take years to solve it. I am 110 percent support behind the Campaign of “Action On Cinema Access” because I am so pissed off with the lack of captioning in cinemas in Adelaide!!!

  5. Marnie; each one of you would have your own display, so I don’t see why you’d huddle around one iPhone.

    Platypus; it would be possible to plug glasses into the iPhone so that the text is overlaid over the movie screen.

    It is true that this iPhone alternative isn’t as good as captioned access, for now anyway. The difference is that captioned access will always be limited, whereas “Bring Your Own” opens up all screenings at all times so that it is no longer a factor at all.

    In view of being able to provide better options for the future, I would be much more interested in theatres providing time synchronised captioning because that is the raw data that other solutions would also be able to use.

    For that reason, I’m not supportive of captioning or the current demands, as it does not open up any other possibilities and uses up the goodwill that would have been needed to push for more viable options in the future.

    So if the power is here now, I’d suggest completely dropping all your demands for special screenings, captioning of movies, rear-window captioning and everything else that you know about. Push for access to the data, so that numerous individual solutions can be created for each and every individual.

  6. Steve – who said I would buy an Iphone for each of my children? What if they are not old enough?
    What of people who are not comfortable with technology, especially the older generation?
    What if a deaf child is too young to manage with such fiddly equipment or needs bigger print than can be accessed on an Iphone?

    And why are we forking out our money again for the right to access cinemas by having to buy the technology?

    I know this is all hypothetical but needs to be looked at.

  7. Steve

    You’re talking out of that little brown thing in your nether region. Whether you have captions onscreen or via rear window or on your phone it means the Cinemas must introduce and pay for the technology. Same difference same objective.

    Disagreeing is one thing but disagreeing to try and prove you are above and beyond everyone is another. Sorry old chap but you have only succeeded in looking like a chump.

    May the protest be the first of many and show that deaf people, blind people and all people with a disability are fed up with being branded a cost when in reality they contribute far more than they take.AND THAT IS IN MONETARY TERMS AND NOT JUST IN SPIRIT AND HUMAN TERMS!!

  8. Gazza; yes, that’s right. The cinemas need to pay for organising and providing the real time captioning data. They could also pay for loan iPods if everyone does not already have a device to display the data.

    Once again, you’re rushing so fast to the insult that you miss the point of what I’m saying. That is not my loss, and I’m sure you’re determined that it is not your loss either. That’s great for both of us.

    Where people lose out is that you’re wasting your time on obsolete crap that will help only deaf people for a short time, instead of a real solution that helps everyone for a long time.

    It would be amusing to compare technical qualifications, rather than the decibel levels of who can scream the loudest. I’m sure you’d win the latter, if that’s any consolation.

  9. Steve, it is you who is missing the point of this protest.

    It is not about technology or who pays for it. It is about Deaf, Hearing Impaired and disabled people, missing out on access to captioned films.

    It is an expression of frustration at the media cartel that says it wants to make access happen, but continually drags its feet.

    Your point about the technology is more appropriate in a discussion about The Best Ways To Create Access or Best Ways To Provide Captioning.

    This protest is about missing out, despite the technology being available ALREADY!

  10. And thank you Tony for speaking from the right part of your anatomy. The word ACCESS .. whatever way is best is what you need to heed Steve. No where has anyone suggested what technology to use only that access be provided.

  11. gazza; do you think you’re getting anywhere by equating my comments with anatomical origins? I could be far more foul mouthed in my descriptions of your input, but that is unproductive too.

    tony; I acknowledge your point. What I am thinking is that the pure data approach has such a low cost that it does not incur enough of an expense to bother refusing it.

    That may be idealistic of me, and there may in fact be no sane rational reason why they’re resisting. My understanding is that you want either rear-window (hideously expensive) or on-screen captioning (very obstructive). With those two options, they’re not going to say ‘yes’.

    If you ask them to provide the captioning data and time-sync information, then that could even be done via the Internet from America… allowing the leveraging of ADA within the superior services structure in the US.

    Wouldn’t that be hilarious? Politically bypassing the entire local organisations as irrelevant, and talking directly to the people who really matter, and who do have that legal and financial understanding of deaf customers.

    Straight from the US companies to the iPhone/iPad over the Internet. Or any other mobile phone that is able to run a web browser and Javascript. Suddenly, who cares about the movie yokels here?

    We could get quite involved in discussions about legal jurisdictions, finance and corporate environments, but it seems gazza is a little too retentive about the fundamental rather than the fundamentals.

  12. Steve, I got your point about technology from the very beginning. We all did. But you were just plain dismissive of this protest. Still are!

    Having said that, irrespective of the technology, the point still remains, access is lagging. We have advanced so much in terms of technology yet access has not kept pace.

    To give you a different example. DVD vs Video Tapes. The advent of the DVD promised so much. All that space to include captions/ subtitles. The Blu Ray is an advance on the DVD..and what the fuck do you think is happening? Not all of them are being captioned or subtitled. Not all of them are being Fully captioned/ subtitled [that is extras are captioned as well]…

    The issue is not technology. The issue is access and the willingness of the hearing world to provide it!

  13. Tony we all got the point but Steve rarely does, he is my equivalent of your MM. Dogs and bones and then tails once the bone is gone failing that it will start on its fingers.

    And your point is shortsighted Steve. Elderly people and many others from low SES backgrounds can not afford the technology that you require. The cinemas have to provide the captions at their expense and for people who attend the cinemas regardless as to whether hey have the latest phone technology or not. It should not rely on whether one has the latest Nanophone or not.

    The issues are not just the captions. Its the where, the times when captions are available and the fact that the cinemas have downright just failed to acknowledge we exist. What other industry would thumb their nose at a potential 8 million more customers. Its short sighted and just plain crazy. The technology is just a part of the overall scenario. You need to read before you spout.

    Maybe for once in your life you should praise people for their efforts to provide a better world for people like you and me. It might just give you the warm fuzzy you seem to lack.

  14. Tony; I get your point about DVD/BluRay. From a technical perspective, the issue is timing as the discs can only be mastered and burned in long runs, and the captioning tends to be available after those runs.

    There are sites on the Net where the captioning can be downloaded and then merged into the video, however that’s still a difficult process for most people and it needs to be much easier than that.

    Without contradiction, I agree with both the fact that I am dismissive of the protest and also that the issue is access and the willingness of the hearing world to provide it.

    The manufacturing process is long and complicated, and runs through a set process which is difficult to modify. We’re currently arguing on the basis that it is worth the financial costs for them to accommodate us because they would make more money. And that’s true! They really would!

    From the business side though, there’s a few points. One is that it would take a bit more time in manufacturing, which results in lost sales to hearing people. It’s also an up-front cost, which requires them to believe us first. And finally, the local yokels in Aussie are not the people who are making the products.

    So I’m not sure if you’re even talking to the right people. Are these movie theatre people even relevant for what we want? I think they’re just the visible front-end of the larger problem, so they can’t really do anything except try and fob people off. The theatres are just the rooms where we see the end result of a long long chain of events.

    The one solid fact is that the captioning and time-sync information is cheap and easy to provide, could even be provided from the US, and can be used in many different ways. If we get that, then the existing demands could be reduced to practical levels.

    Thanks for your response, Tony.

    • Steve I don’t give a shit whatever the reasons for lack of access are. The thing is, they are excuses. It is now 2010, not 1910! And if you want to discuss this from a technical point of view, then perhaps you ought to consider creating a blog or post this in an appropriate forum. Otherwise, you are side lining an important debate, which is to fight for access. Not give the media industries yet more excuses to buy time to never implement them!

  15. Whatever way Steve its the Cinema industry’s responsibility to implement a system that provides access. If what you are saying works then great .. But the Cinemas have to act. the question as to whether they are the people that we have to lobby too .. absolutely. they are responsible for implementing whatever system that is implemented for access, and it has to be accessible for all not just those that have the technology required at hand.The other question is whether the solution you are proposing can provide audio description for the blind too. If so all and good.

    Like the judge in America said when a deaf customer sued a Cinema there for lack of access .. he said to the Cinema, “You can fight this but you will lose. You can be the good guy or the bad guy but you will lose.” He said also “I dont understand with todays technology where access can be provided at the push of a button why you cant provide captioning.” Whatever the answer the onus is on the Cinema. It isn’t a feel good thing its just plain business sense. Its not hard and it is not complicated and all expenses are offset in the profit from extending the market. Further it doesn’t prevent hearing people buying things either…. that point makes no sense unless the product is all open captioned which it is not.

  16. Steve – have you ever taken a moment to read the 450 submissions made to the Australian Human Rights Commissioner who are objecting to what the cinea is offering? After you have read each and everyone of them, considering the access issue, cost issue, time issue, why should we have to pay more when ablebodied have to pay less issue etc and then reflect back on your comments above.

    Whilst your initial suggestion has merit I think it is idealistic and welcome a more rational solution if you think what Gary, Tony, Marnie, Tim and other have said still doesnt hold weight.

    I was at the Melbourne protest and heard (er saw) all the stories that were shared by thepeople directly affected, parents of children with disabilities, youths and more importantly children who dont have a disability and sharing their frustration. The bottom line is the cinema had 18 years to get their act together and spent 6+ years stuffing two major peak bodies around and coming up with an insulting proposal as if we are fools.

    Like you Im keen for solutions but only that it will not further inconvenience Australians with disability as we have been enduring for far too long.

    Join in the fight or at least tell the cinema to get their head checked! 😉

  17. Quite frankly, if I were working for the cinemas, I would say “so, what are you asking for?”… in return, Tony would thump his fist and be emotional, Gazza would talk about my fundament, and Dean would empathise with impact statements.

    I would still be saying “so, what are you asking for?”. You want rear-window on the back of every seat? No way. You want captions up on the screen? No way. Got anything better? No? Go away then. That’s what’s happening, right?

    I just don’t think you have the right position. Seriously, you need to stop the screaming and the-rebuttal type of politics and start thinking about manufacturing processes, company politics, and internal policies – that’s how they think.

    What I said about obtaining the captioning and time-sync information is practical, pragmatic, and a minimal first step towards whatever solution can be created. You would still need this even if you think I’m wrong and want to go ahead with rear-window.

    You don’t want me to join this fight… you want me to comply with the Deaf leadership.

    • Quite frankly Steve your fundament is of no interest to me but when you reply you constantly draw our attention to it.

      I dont know what we need to do to make you understand. But it is simple at present we have said we want captioning that is accessible to anyone that goes into the cinema and audio description. rear window captioning is an option on the table. There are several options that are on the table. The cinemas are simply required to commit to one and roll it out so that we can have more than .03% access …. If you want to send information about the system you are advocating and its benefits by all means do so and the campaign can bring that to the table.

      The Cinemas have not said go away they have just offered the bear minimum and asked to be exempt from the law. The campaign is about making them accountable and to provide access that they have the capacity to do now so that Deaf people and blind people can access more times and diversity of movies.

      No-one has rejected your idea they are just saying if you want your system in show its benefits and lobby to the cinemas to implement it. Which part of that do you not understand.

      Its really FUNDAMENT-AL

  18. Simple… and wrong. 18 years of no results underlines that point quite nicely. The cinemas are irrelevant to the captioning problem, and the Deaf groups are irrelevant to the solution.

    Right now, I can download subtitles from the Net and press “play” at the movies with reasonable results. This already works, and I understand that just fine. How about you?

    You are of the same ilk as the people you complain about so much on this blog. They got the cushy jobs that you wanted. They would be writing the-rebuttal if you had their jobs.

    • Look just shut up! Seeing you insist on missing the point and hijacking the thread, Steve, I am not approving any further comments to this thread!

    • You are a scream Steve .. a Scream a minute. Seeing as you have no idea what I do or what I earn that’s a really weird statement. Again – just so you know … its a matter of choice. Watch the text on your fone if u must. I and everyone but u want captions in such a way as the place that I pay to watch the films provides them, not because I chose to pay extra for technology and have a data plan on my phone which costs me mega bucks but because its the Cinemas responsibility. And we will win this one. And while I am watching captions on screen you will be getting a sore arm and neck trying to catch the action and text on your fone. I’d like to see that Tim 🙂

  19. lol…. very simple. As I mentioned in the previous comment. Ask Steve to see if he is interested to be a steering committee for the Captioned Cinema’s Innovation project. I am afraid this could be the UFC project, so why not ask Matt Hamill to chairing the meeting? I like to see that 🙂

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