A Response From Deafness Forum

This is a response from Deafness Forum. They claim many people think Captiview is great and only a few people have complained. Let us know if you agree or not will will forward your responses to Deafness Forum. We commend Deafness Forum for their effort to communicate with the community, Its been lacking of late. We hope that this continues.

We have recently received a small number of complaints about the change-over in some cinemas from open captions (OC) to closed captions (CC).  We have passed these on to FaHCSIA, as they are collecting all feedback for the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group (ACAG).  FaHCSIA tell us they have also received some similar complaints;  as well as many positive comments.

For many years, consumer advocate groups, such as Deafness Forum and Deaf Australia, have been pushing for the day when all films, on every screen, of every cinema, are captioned.  This goal is now possible.

Major changes are happening in the film industry:

 1.     Firstly, the major cinema chains are changing over from 35mm film to digital video

Many cinemas, which now use 35mm film, will be changing before the end of 2014.  Screens in cinemas will be converted from analogue to digital technology. 


2.     Secondly, the major movie house (eg in Hollywood ) have also agreed to provide all new (digital) films with ‘data packages’ (accessible features).  

The major cinema chains in Australia have agreed to use these data packages, and technology such as the CaptiView system, to deliver accessible film.  (That is, close captioned movies for patrons with hearing loss;  and also audio description for those with vision loss.)   

  The cinema chains have agreed to keep playing open captions (in the cinemas where they are now showing) during the roll-out.  That is, they will not cancel any captioned sessions, as this would be discriminatory to people with hearing loss.

  These changes together mean that, eventually, closed captions (part of the digital ‘data packages’) will gradually replace the open captions of the old 35mm film.   

This is very much the same as the move from VHS video tape to DVDs.   Or the change-over from analogue TV to digital TV after 2013, our old analogue TV sets will no longer work;  and we will all need either a digital TV set, or a set-top box.

So, in cinemas, for example:

  Open captions ……                                               


will be replaced by closed captions ……  (in this case, via CaptiView)


For several reasons, there were unfortunate delays in the original plan for the roll-out over last summer.  Some of these were outside the control of the ‘Big Four’ movie chains:

·        new contracts with the major movie houses; 

·        lack supplies of the equipment for the digital technology; 

·        lack of supplies of the CaptiView system itself.

However, the cinema chains have assured the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group (ACAG) that the 2014 timetable will be met.Screens in theatres which now show open captioned movies will be changing to the closed captions system. This means that Hoyts, Village Cinemas, Events Cinemas and Reading Cinemas will be rolling out closed captions in their cinemas around Australia in the next few years. 


This will greatly improve the choice of films, and the number of screening times, available to patrons with hearing loss.  For example, Hoyts this week announced eight new digital screens in five cinemas with (closed) captioning:

·        Chatswood Westfield, Sydney – 1 screen

·        Chatswood Mandarin, Sydney – 2 screens

·        Warrawong on the NSW south coast – 1 screen

·        Belconnen, ACT – 2 screens

·        Woden, ACT – 2 screens


Session information for captioned movies will continue to be given on each cinema’s webpage on FaHCSIA’s Your Local Cinema website. Simply select your state and follow the links.

The current device used to deliver the new closed captions is the CaptiView technology.   

While most of the feedback we have had on the CaptiView has been positive, there have been some criticisms.  There have been some “teething problems” reported – for example:

·        not being able to book a unit

·        not having enough units for a large group

·        staff not as well-briefed as they should be

·        lack of a ‘How To’ guide, or staff assistance, for patrons on using the device

·        getting the position of the device right for easy viewing

·        the colour of the captioned text

·        the type of ‘deposit’ requested for the loan of the CaptiView unit.

The ACAG now has two groups working on all these issues.  This work should soon improve the amount and quality of information to patrons.  It should also help with booking the device, and making sure that cinema staff are well-trained to assist patrons with the units.

We know that the CaptiView system is new, and not familiar to patrons.  CaptiView is the technology that can deliver closed captions for patrons at the cinemas;  this device is compatible with the new digital rollout in cinemas.  The quality and ease of use of the device should improve over time;  however, the feedback we have from most patrons right now is that it works, and it does deliver captions. 

I do hope this information helps to clarify some of the issues in our sector. 

We welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvement, and will continue to work hard to ensure your cinema experience is as entertaining as possible.



Kris Newton