Subtitled cinema – why not?

When was the last time you went to the cinema to watch a film?  What did you actually see?  I don’t watch all that many films but my wife and daughter love them.  Except for my wife (and many others) to go to the cinema isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

If you’ve read my blog for sometime, you will know that my wife is deaf.  What you might not realise though is that there are very few showings of films with subtitles in the cinema (movie theatre) here in the UK.  Take for example: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”.  This is a film I am sure Rebekah would love to go and see.  At our local cinema in the city centre, this is being shown 3 times a day and the subtitled version, just once at 3:15 tomorrow afternoon.

Can I ask why films aren’t shown with subtitles as “the norm”?  How hard is it for the guy in his little booth before pressing play on the DVD (or whatever format the film is in) to press his little subtitle button? Are they scared that the likes of me and you (hearing people who don’t need the subtitles) will actually complain?  So what!  I am sure that if the guy accidentally left the film on mute people would complain.  So why can’t deaf people have equal access that they deserve?

Remote Control

“Subtitles can be turned on or off, like a DVD player or Sky box.”

I am sure this is when the cinema companies will shout back and say that they have a “loop system in operation”.  I don’t care whether you have a loop system or not.  (Ok the law states that in any public building you should have a loop installed but that’s not the point.)

To watch a film should be a pleasurable and relaxing experience.  Having a loop system installed will help some deaf people who have some residual hearing but it still doesn’t provide the same access that subtitles would provide.  Some deaf people are too deaf to hear a loop – some people I know don’t even wear hearing aids because they are “too deaf” for hearing aids.  How can they switch a non existent hearing aid to ‘T’?!

My wife and daughter only went to the cinema a few weeks ago to watch Tinkerbell – a subtitled version.  Except, oh no, the guy forgot to switch on the subtitles.  Ok, they got their money back but that’s not the point!  Why can’t subtitles be “the norm” and so in just the same way the DVD operator or whatever the job title is, remembers to switch the volume up will also switch the subtitles on automatically because that’s his/her job!?  Why can’t deaf people have the access to entertainment just like the rest of us?

Talking to you

I would be interested to hear from some of the UK cinemas.  I have tweeted them directly in this post, so feel free to reply in the comments below.

If you require more information, look here at this.



5 thoughts on “Subtitled cinema – why not?

  1. Kathryn

    It wouldn’t bother me if the subtitles were on all the time and in fact could be quite helpful in some films! Despite the high volume most cinemas use, it’s often difficult to hear what the characters are saying (& no, it’s not my age!). Mind you, having seen the trailer for the hobbit film yesterday, I don’t think there’s enough dialogue to need subtitles!

  2. deafnwa

    Reblogged this on Deaf NWA and commented:
    In my local movie theater they have these devises that can set in your cup holder that show the subtitles I wrote about them a few months ago, they work amazingly. I am not sure what they are called but if you look up close caption device google with give you a picture of them. I think all movie theaters should be required to have them.

  3. thatdeafguy

    Paul, here in the U.S., as deafnwa states, we have caption devices that sit in the cup holder. These do make watching films more enjoyable however, not all theaters are set up for this. Through an advocacy group I work with, we discovered there is quite a cost involved in the set up and use. Perhaps you can find an advocacy group in the U.K. and work with them on a solution.

  4. AlisonWyvern

    Hearing people won’t object to subtitles if they become the norm! We’re already accustomed to subtitles in foreign films and during bits of dialogue with either real or fantasy foreign languages (like The Hobbit, with respect to Elvish). I can easily imagine a future in which all films and TV shows are at least closed-captioned or have those things in the cup holder. It’s amazing this isn’t already the case.


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