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September 20, 2006

WGBH's MoPix® System Wins da Vinci Award

Patented Motion Picture Access System Makes Films and Theaters Accessible to Moviegoers Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind or Visually Impaired

Boston, MA. WGBH's MoPix® system has won a prestigious da Vinci Award in recognition of the patented system's ability to make first-run movies and theaters accessible to patrons with vision or hearing loss.

To be presented September 29 by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Michigan, the da Vinci Awards honor exceptional design and engineering achievements in accessibility and universal design that empowers people of all disabilities.

Now available in 270 theaters across North America, MoPix is comprised of two separate technologies. Rear Window® Captioning enables deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers to superimpose captions that only they can see onto a theater screen using a special reflector device that attaches to the seat's cup holder. DVS Theatrical® provides blind and visually impaired patrons with audio narration of a film's visual elements via headsets available at the theater.

WGBH Media Access Director Larry Goldberg said that MoPix improves upon previous movie access options, since the captions and audio description are provided only to patrons who request them, and thus do not impact the experience of other theater patrons. As a result, patrons with sensory disabilities may now enjoy first-run theatrical movie debuts at the same time as their hearing or sighted friends and family members instead of having to wait for a special screening of a captioned print of the film.

"MoPix grew out of WGBH's decades-long commitment to pioneering and providing access to television and other media via captioning and video description," said Goldberg, who noted that WGBH invented captioning for the hearing impaired in the 1970s. "It's gratifying to know that these technologies have made movies and TV programs accessible to millions of individuals with sensory disabilities."

Among the Hollywood studios working with WGBH to make more than 100 films accessible each year are Buena Vista Pictures, Columbia Pictures, MGM, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Films, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures and The Weinstein Company. For a list of current films, MoPix locations and "coming soon" titles through 2006 and 2007, visit the MoPix Web site.

How the systems work The patented Rear Window System (U.S. Patent # 5,570,944) displays reversed captions on a light-emitting diode (LED) text display that is mounted in the rear of a theater. Patrons use transparent acrylic panels attached to their seats to reflect the captions so that they appear superimposed on or beneath the movie screen. The reflective panels are portable and adjustable, enabling the caption user to sit anywhere in the theater. A recent update of the reflector's design by the design firm Multi: Design for People and reflector manufacturer Boston Light & Sound, Inc. improves the usability and functionality of the device.

DVS Theatrical provides descriptive narration by means of an infrared or FM transmitter to a small portable receiver, enabling blind and visually impaired moviegoers to hear the descriptions of visual information-- on-screen action, settings, facial expressions and more-- on headsets from any seat in the theater.

Exhibitors serving the needs of patrons with sensory disabilities with MoPix installations in select locations include AMC Theatres, Carmike Theaters, CEC Theatres, Cineplex Theatres (Canada), Clearview Cinemas, Consolidated Theatres, Crown Cinemas, Douglas Theatres, Empire Theatres (Canada), Jack Loeks Theatres, Kerasotes Theatres, Loews Theaters, Malco Theatres, Megaplex Theatres, Muvico Theatres and National Amusements Theatres.

Rear Window Captioning systems may also be found throughout Walt Disney World, Disneyland and other theme parks, and at many Imax Theaters and National Parks visitors centers, some of which also are equipped with DVS Theatrical systems.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. WGBH's Media Access Group is a pioneer in technologies and services that make all forms of media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions.


Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
phone: 617 300-3700 voice
617 300-2489 TTY