Deaf viewers fight for on-screen movie captions
Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester , NY
David Riley, Staff writer
August 18, 2014
A loose-knit group of deaf and hard-of-hearing people wants movie theaters in the Rochester area to more readily provide captions on-screen if patrons ask for them.
About 40 advocates took their cause to the Regal Henrietta Stadium 18 theater earlier this month, said Dean DeRusso, a Gates resident who is deaf and participated in the protest. Many people had difficulty using special captioning glasses provided by the theater or thought the devices were uncomfortable, while others found that there were not enough for everyone to use, he said.
DeRusso said he asked theater employees to activate on-screen captions instead, but was told that only upper management could do so.
In DeRusso’s view, that means that the region’s large deaf population is not getting equal access to the theater. An estimate by the National Technical Institute for the Deafin 2012 said that more than 40,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing live in greater Rochester — among the largest per capita populations with hearing difficulties in the U.S.
DeRusso said the theater should turn on captions for any movie when at least one deaf or hard-of-hearing person attends.