HLAS Members and Friends:The Evening Hearing Group was motivated by the discussion of U.S. Senate Bill 555 (S555) Tuesday night and asked that this “Listen Up” preview be sent out with information on how to write our Senators.Listen Up editor and lawyer, Richard Williams, advised that Capital Hill sources state that the Bill has only a 5% chance of getting out of committee.
The Bill provides for captioning of movies as an ADA requirement and adds no cost to the U.S. Budget, minimal cost to theatre operators—who are not opposed to it—and adds to the quality of life of 17% of the national population—over three million hard of hearing residents of Florida alone, 135,000 from our two county area!
Sen. Harkin of Iowa has no co-sponsors but chaired the Committee hearing May 14. This bi-partisan Bill needs co-sponsors to move forward. The ADA attorney, the FCC attorney and others testified in favor of the Bill. The National Association of Theatre Owners is opposed to open captions (captions for all as it “turns off” hearing people and studies find hard of hearing people prefer closed captions) but testified that they have funded and led research for closed captions (like the Sony glasses) and are not opposed to the legislation if closed captions are deemed compliant.
A Bill (S555) was introduced in the United States Senate on March 13, 2013 by retiring Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa that would require captioning and video descriptions for movies in movie theaters with two or more screens.
The Bill would amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide access to dialogue and description of movies for the deaf and hard of hearing.
HLAS members are familiar with the Sony Caption Glasses through its Movie Club, the Hearing Health Expo in April and the demonstration at the Take Back Your Life reception on May 1. There are other manufacturers as well.
When one considers the millions paid to producers and actors, the cost of caption glasses would be minimal. We know that onscreen captions are distracting for some people and the glasses allow the movies to be captionless for the majority but provide a greater enjoyment (and more moviegoers to the theatre owners) to the hard of hearing. The key provisions are:
‘(3) MOVIE THEATER ACCESSIBILITY-
‘(A) DEFINITIONS- In this paragraph:
(i) CLOSED CAPTIONING- The term ‘closed captioning’ means a method, process, or mechanism, which may include a device, that—
I) allows an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to have access to the content of a motion picture; and‘
(II) allows that access by displaying, through an individual device or individually used technology, all of the audio portion of the motion picture (including displaying the dialogue and any narration, as well as descriptions of on- and off-screen sounds such as sound effects, music, or lyrics for music, and information identifying the character who is speaking) as text that can be effectively viewed and controlled by that individual while the individual simultaneously watches the motion picture.
Senator Harkin chairs the Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions
and held hearings for the full committee on May14. That video is available below. Also, the members of the committee are listed. Please write Senators Nelson and Rubio to support -and co-sponsor this Bill. HLAA is monitoring these hearings and the Bill and a showing of support is necessary to move it out of committee.