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The Media Access Group at WGBH

MoPix® Motion Picture Access

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

MOPIX in the News

Movie Theater Provides Service for Visually, Hearing Impaired

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
by Katie King
June 17, 1999

For the first time the fantasy world of movies is now available to the hearing and visually impaired.

A south Cobb movie theater is one of only six movie theaters in the nation to give moviegoers with a loss of vision or hearing the fun and thrills that Hollywood offers through a new advanced service.

General Cinemas' Parkway Pointe 15 is apparently the only theater in the state that provides the blind and visually impaired a narration of the movie that describes characters, settings and action scenes in detail during parts of the movie where there is no dialogue.

The narration is transmitted through a wireless earphone.

Deaf and hearing impaired patrons are provided at their seats with a reflector screen, fitted perfectly in the cup holder, that mirrors the closed-captioning displayed on a TelePrompTer in the back of the theater.

The theater complex, which opened in November, equipped one of its 15 screens with this new service.

Currently, only two newly released movies have been programmed with this technology, mainly because of high cost, said Cheryl Mauldin, the administration manager for Parkway Pointe Cinemas.

"Only certain movies are made with both descriptive video and rear captioning," Mauldin said.

"So far, 'Eight Millimeter' (a 1999 release starring Nicolas Cage) and 'Star Wars Episode I --- The Phantom Menace' are the only movies which have had it available for the public at this theater."

The system was developed in November 1997 by WGBH-TV, a public broadcasting station in Boston. The company not only had to get movie studios to send them advanced copies of their films in order for the company to translate and narrate the dialogue in time for the movie's release, but also had to acquire the funding from the studios to provide the service to theaters around the country, said Brian Callaghan, public relations manager for General Cinemas.

A CD-ROM contains the dialogue of the movie that is projected on the TelePrompTer and the narration of the movie that is transmitted to the headphones.

"It is a very expensive process," Callaghan said. "General Cinemas is the only theater company right now that has this technology available."

Though this new service hasn't been used much yet, Callaghan said that it is because the public doesn't know about it.

"We're now making efforts to get the word out to the public," said Callaghan.

"This new service is able to bring the magic of the movies to people who haven't had access to it in the past."

The upcoming release of "Big Daddy" starring Adam Sandler is the next movie scheduled to released with the special system

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