Such is Life

capSuch is life – But it don’t need to be so! Life’s a bitch sometimes. Some weeks are just bastards. There are weeks that you wish just did not happen but they do. Perhaps at work you missed that deadline and you are at loggerheads with the boss. Perhaps  one of your teenage kids has gone off the rails and is stealing money so that you are missing $500 or so from your account. Perhaps you have lost your job, you separated or your dog died. Yup, life’s a bitch!

Now these little examples that I have provide did not all happen to me. One did and the rest are simply things that happened to friends last week. Yup, last week was a horror for many. Work and personal issues sometimes combine just to make periods of your life living hell. That’s life, there is good and there is bad. Usually the good and the bad even out in the end. We simply have to navigate our way through the minefield.

Part of what we do to deal with the negative things is to try and balance them with positive things. Some of us struggle to deal with the negatives and require medication. I’ve been there and for a time Diazapam was my friend. Mostly we just try to balance the negatives by doing positive things. We meet friends, play sport, paint, go out for a meal or simply take in a movie.

For my deaf friend seeking to wind down after a tough week, a simple trip to the movies became a nightmare. Going to the movies is never a simple thing if you are deaf. You have to scour the newspaper ads to see if a movie is captioned. More often than not the ads never indicate whether a movie is captioned or not. Sometimes even when they are advertised as captioned they are in fact not. To be safe a phone call to the cinema is advised to check. The whole process can sometimes be more trouble than it is worth.

This is what happened toy my friend last night. He had just experienced a week from hell. It happens. If you have a family and have a week from hell your family, simply by association, experiences that week too. As much as we try to cocoon them from the hurt it impacts on them. So my friend and his family, having had a crap week, decided a trip to the movies was what was required.

Being an experienced movie goer the said friend phoned in advance to see if the movie he wanted to see was captioned. It was, wisely he asked the cinema to reserve him the captioning device that is known as Captiview. The Deaf community have affectionately dubbed the device Craptiview.

For those not in the know, Craptiview is a device that essentially looks like an alien on a bendy arm. You attach the said device to the drink holder and adjust it so that you can see it and the screen. The captions then appear on this device for people who are deaf. If you have decided to have a drink the said drink then sits in your lap for the duration of the movie because there is nowhere else to put it. No matter, at least you get access to captions.

So anyway, my friend had rung ahead and booked his device. This is wise because there are only a limited number of devices. If you do not book ahead it is entirely possible that the devices may all be taken and you end up with nothing. Not to worry, my friend has thought ahead. All he needs to do is rock up with his family pick up the Craptiview device and Bob’s your uncle or Deb’s your aunt.

So he arrived with his family. Its a late show – 9.40 because the cinemas think deaf people and their families are all night owls and schedule the bulk of the captioned movies at these ungodly hours. As they arrived my friend’s wife noted that there were a group of six deaf people there and they each had a Craptiview device. This didn’t worry my friend too much. After all he had called forward and booked his device.

He arrived at the counter and asked for his device. Oh dear – There were none left. The ticket seller then went off to the manager to get advice. Luckily there was one more device in the back room somewhere and they sought this out. Now these devices are a bit like Playstation controllers. They have to be charged so that they do not conk out in the middle of the movie.

Oh dear – This spare device was flat. They needed to recharge it. This would take about 30 minutes. No good at all when the movie is starting in five. Particularly annoying for my friend who had booked ahead and arrived 30 minutes early to get his device set it up. I guess when you have had a crap week and then you go to enjoy something as simple as a movie, if something like this happens it might be the last straw.

This was the case with my friend and he was naturally furious. Not wanting to spoil the night for his family he told them to continue on with the movie. His son offered to wait for the DVD. His wife, having also been part of the week from hell, burst into tears. His daughter, in sympathy for father and mother, burst into tears too. What was supposed to be a relaxing night with the family turned into hell.

And I am furious too. I am furious because these mega rich cinemas don’t give a shit. They were told Craptiview was crap as soon as it came out. They were told that it spoilt the enjoyment of the movie. They were told that the device was unreliable and the captions frequently dropped out. They were told that the device was, in fact, a health hazard. Said one friend,“Going to a cinema is now a health risk….for myself like many it’s stressful for one, the eyes sight and brain power is two, and the seating is another…especially if one is 6ft plus…slouching in the seat to lower yourself to view Captiview leaves one with back pain post event.”

They ignored all of this advice and went ahead with rolling out Craptiview anyway. And as they rolled it out  the universal loathing of the device became obvious. Its failings became crystal clear. No  one in the cinema industry that represented the Big 4 cinemas cared. We, the deaf people of Australia, had to suck it up and go without.

And the cinemas lied. As the Deaf community began to implore for a return to open captioned movies they said it wasn’t possible, that open caption files were no longer available. And then a private cinema provider worked out how to put files designed for Craptiview on screen. “Look!” we said, “It can be done.” 

And then the cinemas tried to prevent this happening because they had concerns about quality control. And then the Deaf community began to take things into their own hands. they would book out cinema rooms and sell tickets so that they could get access to open captions. There was even a DDA complaint that meant distributors had to supply open captioned movies, something that they had denied could happen.

And in Horsham the local cinema regularly provides open caption sessions. Simply because a deaf woman and a mother of a deaf child asked them too. They provide open captioning in Ballarat and Ararat too. Small cinemas willing to do the right thing. These are not mega rich cinemas either.

But the Big 4? Hoyts, Village, Reading and Greater Union refuse to join the party. For them the pathetic excuse for access that is Craptiview is enough. Despite its failings and despite the complaints they continue to provide a device that often is flat, often doesn’t work properly and to top this off is a health hazard for many.

But worse is that they don’t care about people. They fail to see the impact that not having proper and quality access to the simple joy of a movie can have. Last night Craptiview failed again and the pain this caused to my friend was immense. All he wanted to do was wind down after a crap week, instead his crap week became crappier. Thanks Craptiview.

This has to stop. It is time for all of us to take up arms again. It’s time to start making DDA complaints en-masse. It is time to Boycott the Big 4 in every shape and form.

As for the Big 4 shame on you – You heartless bastards! But yeah – Such is life!

(Last nights fiasco happened at the Knox Cinema complex which is part of the Village franchise. I encourage you all to post on the Village Facebook site them and let them know how appalled you are –  https://www.facebook.com/villagecinemas

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One thought on “Such is Life

  1. Perhaps get a Uni professor to write support lobby letter of the effects of vision impairment /damage to the eyes , mental health risks to a person Deaf becoming vision impaired as a result of craptiview forced use due to equatable veiwing to to eyes and neck. Imagine the uproar if the hearing were expected to view film with u sitting on the volume dial turning it up and off .Yeah its less favorable provision of goods and services again under DDA .But DA need u on the Board to do any thing for Deaf that isnt about their own fundraising. Last Friday night proved that DA dont get what Deaf Community is /want in 2015.

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