Is it any Wonder!!!

See below an email that has been sent to the Government to bring to their attention the many dis-satisfied responses to Captiview.

See below that the automated response that was received and bang head against nearest wall. The email was also sent to Deafness Forum who have, as we understand, received several emails on the subject and not responded. As an ex-Board member I apologise, I feel truly ashamed.


We noticed your latest media release. We are concerned that Captiview is being promoted as the answer. Many deaf people are not satisfied with the system. Deaf people are the market for this system. They are a substantial market not a charity case. If you give them an inferior product they will switch off in droves.

What is concerning is that several have written into organisations like Deafness Forum and have not had their concerns responded to. In fact they have been completely ignored.

Please see the following links;

These articles highlight a number of very concerning issues.

You will clearly see there are many dis-satisfied customers and when they complain they are being completely ignored.

This email has been placed at our Blog and has been sent on behalf of the many dis-satisfied deaf cinema goers. We urge you to address their concerns and show them the respect they deserve. It is a substantial market and no market of such size would ever be treated with such incredible disrespect.

The Rebuttal Team


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Thank you for contacting the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group. Your feedback and comments toward this consultation process are valuable to us. We regret that we cannot individually respond to each email. Your feedback will help inform the Advisory Group to prepare and distribute updated information intended to address the issues raised by yourself and other members of the public. Updated information will be distributed through the members of the Cinema Access Advisory Group and also through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website on the following link.

We value your right to privacy. If you have written regarding personal accessibility issues with a specific cinema, we will contact you to confirm if you would like to have your email forwarded to the appropriate Cinema chain to have the matter pursued directly.


Captiview Reviews

In the interest of informed debate we present you these differing points of view on the Captiview Cinema Captioning system. You can bet your bottom dollar that we at The Rebuttal will will give you the good and the bad so that YOU can make up your mind. Unlike some people we know ;-D

Open Captions and Closed Captions. What is the big deal?

To put it simply, open captions (“OC”) is the words that appears on the screen. Closed captions (“CC”) means there are no words on the screen. You have to use a handset device called CaptiView to watch a movie. Click here   CaptiView looks like.

In my perspective, going to the movies in a CC session is not a nice way to enjoy the movie. You have to ensure that you are sitting in an appropriate seat, ideally at the back seat, so the handset device aligns with the screen. You can’t really snuggle up to someone else or be a blob or be comfortable in your seat while watching a movie. Instead, you have to sit upright and focus on what you are doing in order to use CaptiView effectively. Not only that, but as you can see from the googled picture, the CaptiView device looks inferior. Compared to this day and age where we all have iPhones, iPads and all sorts of fancy technology, this device literally looks like a bad 80s technology. What’s the point of going to see a movie in the cinema if you are not going to enjoy it.

I have always maintained that I am all for new technologies and maximising accessibility for all deaf people to watch a movie. In theory, CC is good in sense that it allows you to watch any movie at any time, whereas, OC is only limited to three sessions a week. My big problem with this is that the cinemas have (and are) completely phased OC sessions out without ensuring the technology used for CC sessions is suitable. There has been no notification by cinemas and no input by the deaf patrons in using CaptiView. Apparently Deaf organisations have been notified of this, and for bizarre reason, they approved it without any obtaining any input from the deaf patrons. To put it simply, OC sessions has been automatically phased out and we are expected to comply with what cinemas are offering us – the inferior CaptiView.

Surely, the cinemas have a responsibility to make sure that the transition from OC to CC is smooth and that it doesn’t disadvantages the deaf patrons. Surely, it would be far much more sensible to trial CC sessions as to generate feedback from deaf patrons, to sort out teething issues and create improvements to the technology, while keeping OC sessions which is only held three times a week. Sadly, this is just a common example of what a company can do to meet the bare minimum requirements to comply with in regards to accessing services for disabled people.

For a much more comprehensive view on this issue, you might find this article good reading:

I would very much appreciate if you could show your support by liking this group as a protest:

Thanks for making time to read this.


My Captiview Experience *only speaking for myself!*

So I saw Harry Potter with captiview yesterday. Bearing in mind I had benefit of watching it with experienced Captiview users, I found it not bad at all, if shown how to get best out of it. Sit in back rows, stretch neck so its tall enough for you to read the box below d screen you can follow the movie easily enough without looking up and down. Font and sentences are small enough so you can read it in one glance.

If this means more cinemas, more timely n frequent screentimes I’d be happy with it. Might be better value-add than long and protracted struggle to get OC up on the screens.

Having said the above – it needs more work. Particularly on user-friendliness and OHS issues. Cinemas should reserve back rows for captiview users otherwise it may open itself for lawsuits on negligent ergonomics.  Kids n seniors will struggle. May not be as efficient for dialogue-intense films. You need enough units to cater for mass audiences for high density locations like city cinemas. Events Cinemas will accept feedback on this but whether they will act on them I dont know. Just my wee 2 cents worth and may I also reitierate – I’m only speaking for myself

Houston We Have a Problem


This is one of the most famous misquotes of all time. In the movie Apollo 13 James Lovell is reporting back to base. There is a technical problem and Lovell utters the immortal line “Houston we have a problem…” In actual fact Lovell said, “Ok Houston, We’ve had a problem here … “ But for dramatic effect the writers of the movie changed this and as a result the line is now humorously used to begin description of any variety of problems. In the case of us deafies it is “Houston we have a problem, no one listens to us …”

This article is about cinema captioning and indeed HOUSTON WE DO HAVE A PROBLEM because many DEAF PEOPLE THINK THE NEW CAPTIVIEW SYSTEM IS CRAP. Captiview is the system that the Big Four Cinemas have introduced to provide captioning in cinemas. I confess, I have not yet used it, but I have heard enough negative reviews to be very reluctant to cough up my hard earned money to access it.

To understand what I am talking about we need to journey back a little bit. Regular readers of The Rebuttal will remember the famous campaign to throw out the Big Four Cinemas’ application for exemption to disability discrimination complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act. In return the Big Four were offering a pathetic increase in captioning access that amounted to something like .125% of all screenings that they put on.  Australian cinemas have over 40 000 screenings of various movies per week. Deaf people get access to ONE of these movies once a week if they are lucky and almost exclusively in capital cities. The Big Four Cinemas’ proposed that they would increase this to maybe three a week. Deaf people, the paying customer, said go jump – we want more.

Nearly  500 people placed online submissions to the Australian Human Rights Commission website. Nearly all of these opposed the Big Four Cinemas’ application for exemption. There were blind and vision impaired people who also opposed it. Part of what the Big Four Cinemas were offering also included Audio Description. It was a big sacrifice for some blind people to oppose the application for exemption because at that time they received absolutely no access at all.

The simple message that the paying deaf customer gave to the Big Four Cinemas was, “we want more, take us seriously.” Our advocates at the time were up in arms. They urged us all to accept what was on offer. If we didn’t, they argued, we might end up with nothing. Indeed our advocates Deafness Forum Australia and Deaf Australia and Media Access Australia actually submitted online to the AHRC that the offer for exemption should be accepted. This was a kick in the face to the many hundreds of individuals and ORGANISATIONS that made it very clear that they did not want to accept what was on offer.

Just who were our advocates representing? Were they representing us or were they representing themselves? How Deaf Australia can look its member organisations like VCOD and QAD in the eye after these organisations told them that they opposed what was on offer and yet still Deaf Australia went ahead and endorsed the Big Four Cinemas’ exemption application is beyond me. To this day the response of our advocates is still the most incredibly dumb thing I have ever witnessed in over 20 years in the Disability sector. To rub salt into the wound Media Access Australia actually congratulated the Big Four Cinemas’ on their application for exemption to the DDA.  The response of our advocates was either incredibly dumb or they were leaned on in a big way by the powers that be.

In the end the Australian Human Rights Commission, to the surprise of our advocates, threw out the Big Four Cinemas’ application for exemption to DDA complaints. The AHRC basically told the Big Four Cinemas that what was on offer was an insult and that millions of Deaf and hearing impaired Australians, as well as Blind and vision impaired, deserved better. It was pointed out the Australian Cinemas were among the most profitable in the world AND THAT THEY COULD DO BETTER.

Almost immediately the Big Four Cinemas came back with a new proposal. After nearly eight years of baulking and avoiding access they suddenly turned around and said “we have the solution!”.They advocated the introduction of a captioning device known as Captiview.  This is basically a box device that you set up at your seat and Captions are beamed to the device. The system , I believe, did not allow for the transmission of Audio Description for the blind so a separate system needed to be in place.

The Cinemas put forward a plan to 2014 and they cited that this would solve everyone’s problem even though they had yet to consult with the community. They proposed that Captiview would be rolled out en-masse providing dramatic increase in access. The twist here is that there appears to be a hidden trade off in that Open Captions would no longer be provided. True to their form they adopted the Fawlty Towers approach, “Don’t mention the war” and in this instance “Don’t mention Open Captions” throughout their proposal.

Hang on! Houston We Have a Problem! Many Deaf people preferred open captions and the Captiview was not yet proven. Many people were sceptical and urged that the device be trialled as an option rather than introducing it en-masse. The argument was that if the device proved not suitable feedback from a trial would indicate whether the device was suitable or not.

BUT NO! The Cinemas, and indeed the Government, notably Bill Shorten, were keen to get the system out there. For Bill Shorten it was a public relations coup. He had actively intervened to assist get the original application for exemption thrown out. ( Although he will never admit this  because the AHRC are supposed to be beyond influence.) Indeed there are whispers that the AHRC were leaned on to make the decision that they did. Deaf and hearing impaired people, the paying customer, said LETS SEE CAPTIVIEW FIRST, the Big Four Cinemas insisted that Captiview was the answer.

WAIT said us ….. No said our advocates. Our advocates insisted that if we did not accept what was on offer that we stood to lose everything. (Where had we heard that before?) And the mad rush to introduce Captiview began. Deadlines were set up, promises were made and of course none of them were kept. Technical problems, health issues and plain stupidity meant that the introduction of Captiview and much vaunted increase in access happened at a trickle so that basically nearly a year on we are not really all that better off.

Early reviews of Captiview were promising. Media Access Australia was among the first to offer a review. Strangely they sent a hearing member of staff to review it. The hearing member of staff, to the surprise of no one, gave it the thumbs up. Truth be known, reviews of Captiview are, at best, mixed. The word lackey springs to mind when discussing MAA.

If you want an unbiased appraisal of Captiview you need to look no further than Facebook. My wife has used the system and found it to be, “not the best, but ok.” Another friend, Jas, found that with attention to detail, finding the right seats and proper placement that Captiview was manageable. Others have been far less flattering. Houston We Have a Problem, too many paying customers are not satisfied.

Consider Ryan’s appraisal of Captiview –

its a useless ineffective technology that just disadvantages the people its supposedly for.”

Kylie didn’t like it either saying that,

“.it’s hard, you can’t focus on both at the same time. It’s one or the other and can be straining on your poor eyeballs”

More damning was Tam who pulled no punches,

They only have 4 Captiview at Forest Hill. I have used it twice & will never use it again. It’s a useless device esp for deaf children.” ( Forest Hill actually have 6)

Tam wasn’t finished’

“It’s no laughing matter… This is serious as we are going backwards in regards to technology for movies. I’ve already put my complaint in. Obviously I’m not being heard… We need more ppl to give feedback. What is the steering group ‘doing about it?”

Mike had little positive to say either,

“..its hard work trying to read the captions. You miss half the captions while watching movie. It’s actually hard work rather than enjoying yourself and relaxing. I couldn’t handle it.”

Indeed the system uses what was termed as 1980’s calculator font and many felt that this detracted from the enjoyment of the movie. But worse, and Houston are you listening, the Captiview introduction has arguably decreased access not increased it.

Why? Well because there are a limited amount of devices available. Now if Deaf people call their friends, say 20 of them, and say let’s go see Harry Potter, and twenty turn up at Forest Hill to see the session … Only six devices are available. What happens to the other 14 people? Do they all huddle around the 6 devices straining to see the captions?

HOUSTON WE HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM! Because all of these issues were raised before Captiview was introduced. Typically the people that PAY, in other words US, were ignored.  All in the interest of progress!

Now what I see the danger of happening here is that Deaf and hearing impaired people will switch off in droves. Attendance will be low and the Big Four Cinemas’ are going to say “Well we did our bit but nobody came.” Everything will be wound back. Access will continue to be minimal and it will be OUR FAULT because we did not want to pay to use an ineffective device! Any improvements in Captiview technology later will pass us by.

So what do we all do? Do we accept and adapt or continue to remind the Big Four Cinemas’ and our advocates that as the paying customers we want a say? Whether we are paying membership to our advocacy organisations or paying to see a movie the age old adage is that THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. Not in our case it seems. We are all just a pain in the butt. We are all a bunch of whingers who do not appreciate anything. According to them that is the case anyway. HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM – The ears that are deaf are not ours!

The Stare and Vonlenska – Bringing it Home.

Our last article was a short story by Dr Paul Jacob. The Stare and Vonlenska told the story of a young deaf girl who was mainstreamed into a normal school. The story described situations that many of us who are deaf and who were educated in mainstream settings are familiar with. Indeed for many deaf people the story stirred memories best left in the dark archives of the mind. It was, to say the least, confronting.

The scenarios that were highlighted in the story are not unique for deaf people. Society can be, and often is, a very cruel place. Those who are “different” often find themselves the centre of unwanted attention. The gay person, the physically disabled, the fat, the thin, the short the not so bright – people that fall into any one of these categories will understand the turmoil and frustrations that were highlighted in Dr Jacob’s story.

I was no different from many that read the story. It brought back some very uncomfortable memories. I clearly remember the change of attitudes from my friends when I lost my hearing between the ages of 8 and 10. I was good at sport and was always among the first picked when teams were selected. Suddenly I found myself being picked last. As a young child this change in attitudes was puzzling to me.

From being part of the crowd I suddenly found myself on the outer. Where usually I would be in the group discussing the merits of the Kung Fu of David Caradine over Bruce Lee or the strength West Ham  over Luton Town I suddenly found myself isolated. Friends that used to greet me suddenly avoided me. It hurt and there was no one who could explain to me why all this was happening. I had to struggle and deal with it myself. It took many years, well into adulthood, to understand what had happened.

My most harrowing memory was going out to the front of the school during assembly to announce my teams soccer results. I had scored four goals, I was looking forward to telling everyone. But unbeknown to me, because I could no longer hear my voice, I was developing a Deaf accent and had trouble controlling the volume of my voice.  I announced the results and looked out at the assembled children and teachers. Teachers were looking at their feet and children were giggling into their hands. What had been so funny, I had no idea. It was not until many years later that I realised that I sounded “funny”. There was no support for me at the time to explain what was happening with my speech. No one explained to me that going deaf meant that the quality of your voice drops. No, these things only became clear many years later.

I remember walking home. I was often teased. Kids loved to demonstrate to others what a lousy lip-reader I was. The thing is, I wasn’t. I was a very good lip-reader. Friends would come up to me at the school crossing and mouth insults; “ARE YOU A POOFTER” they would silently mouth. “DO YOU SMELL.”  I would always answer yes just to see how stupid that they thought that I was. Suffice to say I found out very quickly who my friends were.

Adolescence was excruciating. There is an old joke about little Tommy who thought a FUCK was something that his father did when he hit his thumb with a hammer. I understand this joke in ways that only deaf people can. One of the curses of deafness, particularly for deaf kids, is that they miss banter and overhearing. Through banter and overhearing kids learn many things. They learn social skills, they learn about sex, about acceptable behaviours. All the time they are hearing things. They hear their families discussing social issues over dinner time conversation. On the radio, in the background, they will hear people discussing when alcohol should be introduced to kids. The dinner time conversation may suddenly swing to what has been heard, “What do you reckon Pat, should kids start to drink at 16?” All the time this highway of information is in action, expanding ones mind, contributing to their social learning and maturity. Yet for the deaf kids, particularly those born into hearing families, very little of this highway of information is accessible.

What this can mean for the young deaf person is that their maturity and social learning lags behind. Their behaviour can be seen as “less than age appropriate”. I was no exception. I clearly recall having a conversation with Karl about Robyn, who I fancied. I used to walk my dog past her house and announce my arrival by blowing loudly into a Whistle Pop that I had purchased at the Deli. Sometimes she would invite me in for a coke or sandwich. Then suddenly one day she stopped wanting to know me. I asked Karl if he knew why. “She thinks you wanna FUCK her.” answered Karl. I was confused, I had no idea what he meant. Truthfully at that point in my life, 13 years old, FUCK was just a swear word. That it was actually a word that described the act of sex was something I just did not know. Naive? Perhaps, but it is a prime example of SOCIAL INFORMATION that deaf kids can miss out on from the simple act of bantering and overhearing.

And this is the real disability of deafness. Deafness is a social disability. The problem is that professionals, by and large, think it will be fixed by improving hearing. For those with severe to profound hearing losses it doesn’t. Even cochlear implants do not fix the problem. Cochlear implants and high tech hearing aids can help people HEAR better but still they do not hear enough. In my work with deaf kids with even mild to moderate hearing losses it is surprising at just how much information that even they miss. The obsession with hearing and the little emphasis on preparing deaf kids for the SOCIAL and PRACTICAL issues of life means that many are DAMAGED goods when they leave school. Under-prepared and totally lacking in DEAF LIFE SKILLS to deal with life.

It is not for nothing that incidence of poor mental health in deaf people is higher than for the general populace. Research abounds to show this. In Holland research shows that 41% of deaf kids have emotional and mental health issues. This is 2.6% higher than hearing kids. (Mental Health Problems of Deaf Dutch Children As Indicated by Parents’ Responses to the Child Behavior Checklist American Annals of the Deaf – Volume 148, Number 5, Spring 2004, pp. 390-395) In 1994 Hindley etal found that 60.9% of deaf kids in mainstream schools exhibited social and emotional mental health issues. Oliver Sacks in his book, Seeing Voices, described deafness as a “preventable form of mental retardation.”  What he means is that our lack of focus on the social and mental development of deaf kids and our obsession with “HEARING” restricts the mental and social development of deaf kids.

We have known this information for years yet still our society keeps making the same mistakes. Nowhere in Australia are there services that focus on the SOCIAL and MENTAL development of deaf kids. Nowhere are their programs that explain to deaf kids that their voice sounds funny and how to deal with it and explain why. Instead we patronisingly tell them “You speak so well!” OK so I speak well, but I sound a little odd to the mainstream don’t I? In school deaf kids are socially isolated but “coping wonderfully” Just how well would they cope if they had access to social interaction and social learning. And just what is “COPING”. Passing? Excelling? or as I found one 17 year old deaf aboriginal girl in Alice Springs in 2003, sitting at the back, colouring in pictures because no one at the school knew how to communicate with her.

Who teaches deaf kids how to deal with difficult communication situations at work or in life. Who teaches them about using interpreters? Who teaches them about using the Internet to access the phone or about captioned telephony? Who provides them with the skills and assertiveness to set up situations so that their communication is enhanced. In short who is skilling them to be DEAF ADULTS so that they are ready for adulthood? In most cases the answer is NO ONE! It is done at the school of hard knocks.

Newly elected President of the World Federation of the Deaf, Colin Allen, spoke at the recent Deaf Australia Conference in Hobart. He publicly stated that Australia’s Education System for the Deaf is a disgrace. Deaf kids are not going to develop confidence and skills from the visiting teacher that visits three times a year. They are not going to learn from the mainstream teacher, well meaning, but lacking in any sort of understanding. What of our support organisations? Which of them are offering social skills programs for deaf kids and their parents? How many of them are providing families with skills and information to enhance banter and overhearing in the family situation? How many deaf kids are provided with work experience programs to develop DEAF LIFE SKILLS in work?  HOW  MANY REAL PROGRAMS EXIST TO ADDRESS THE SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL NEEDS OF DEAF KIDS?  Professionals in the field will deny it, but the answer to these questions is NEXT TO NOTHING. How much longer are we going to allow this situation to exist?

The time for change is now!