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woman using headphones to hear audio descriptions
woman using reflector to see captions
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Press Release:

MOPIX in the News

Cobb County theater makes movies accessible to blind, deaf

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
by Bob Longino
August 7, 2000

Connie Stratigos used to never go to the movies. She couldn't hear well enough to understand what any of the characters were saying.

But in the past year she's watched "28 Days," "Random Hearts," "8M," "The Green Mile" and "The Patriot" --- all at General Cinema's Parkway Pointe 15 in Cobb County.

Stratigos, 66, of Roswell is one of dozens of metro Atlantans who have used special equipment at the theater, made available last year, that allows the hard of hearing, deaf or blind to more fully experience big-screen movies.

Parkway Pointe is the only conventional theater in metro Atlanta with the equipment, and it's available in only one screening room.

Similar equipment is also in use in a small number of theaters in a dozen other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Seattle.

For the normal price of admission, the hard of hearing, for example, get a special screen gizmo --- a dark panel on a long, movable metal band. The user sticks the band into a drink holder just about anywhere in the theater and adjusts the panel to reflect red- lettered dialogue displayed at the back of the theater on a computerized readout board. Blind moviegoers get a headset, known as DVS, on which they hear narration describing the visuals in between the dialogue.

In "The Patriot," the narration for the blind is fast-paced, frequently sparse ("Martin peers sternly over his reading glasses") and sprinkled with pointed adjectives (Mel Gibson's character is labeled "handsome," while the ruthless British colonel has "piercing blue eyes" and levels a "cold stare").

One of the movie's most disturbingly violent scenes --- in which Gibson, covered in blood, makes mincemeat of a Brit with a tomahawk -- becomes "he hacks at the body again and again."

For the deaf and hard of hearing, the rear captioning displays virtually every word of "Patriot" dialogue, along with helpful references to off-screen sounds such as "(footsteps on the stairs)" or --- the phrase appearing most often --- "(horse whinnies)."

"I just never went to movies in general," says Stratigos, who began suffering from nerve-ending deafness 36 years ago and received a cochlear implant about five years ago. "Now I go whenever I get the chance. It is so nice to go with your family and grandchildren and enjoy the movie together."

She also e-mails about 200 people every time there's a new movie coming.

The captioning and descriptive narration are done by WGBH, the public television station in Boston, which asks Hollywood studios to select movies and fund the captioning and narration (the cost is roughly $12,000 to $15,000 per film).

Daily showtimes for "The Patriot" at Parkway Pointe, featuring equipment for the hard of hearing and blind, are 1:45, 5:20 and 9:05 p.m.

For future featured movies, check The Atlanta Journal- Constitution's movie guide for the film designated "REAR CAPT./DVS" at the Parkway Pointe 15. Or, to receive e-mail notices about such films, e-mail General Cinema spokesman Brian Callaghan at bcallagh@gencin.com with the word "Atlanta" in the subject field.

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