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NAD Presentation at Access Board Meeting on Communication Access

NAD Presentation at Access Board Meeting on Communication Access

Editor: Despite all the laws and good intentions people with hearing loss still do not have anything like equivalent access to information. Here’s a report on the recent presentation to the Access Board by Rosaline Crawford of NAD.

This report is presented courtesy of NVRC. You are welcome to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC. (See full credit at the end of this article.)


On July 25, 2006, the U.S. Access Board held a public meeting on Communication Access in Washington, D.C. Rosaline Crawford gave a presentation on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. Here’s a quick summary from her written comments:

History of Access Board Comments

The NAD and other organizations for deaf and hard of hearing persons have commented at previous Access Board meetings on these needs that continue to be unmet:

– Information that is equivalent and publicly must be displayed in written form (e.g., realtime captioning) when public address systems are used.

– Better safeguards must ensure the safety and lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, such as effective smoke, fire, and other alerting devices, especially in public and sleeping areas.

– Accessible equivalent two-way visual and text communication must be provided at points of entry, intercom systems, and drive-thru facilities.

– Appropriate acoustical environments must be ensured, particularly in educational facilities to support children with hearing loss.

Videophone Availability

Where high speed Internet connection is available, people who are deaf and hard of hearing are connecting with each other through videophones. These phones enable them to fully express themselves in sign language, using facial expression and body language, in a way that text cannot. Videophones also provide a link to people who use telephones through use of Video Relay Services. They must be considered as a viable addition to public and payphone TTYs.

Going to the Movies

The number of captioned movies being shown in theaters has increased in many states, especially in the Washington, DC area, New Jersey, and New York. This has been due to the efforts of captioned movie providers, the commitment of movie studio and theater industry representatives, and advocacy by consumers and state officials. The number of movies being released with captions continues to increase every year.

Out of about 400 new movies released each year, about 150 are “wide release” movies are distributed nationally.The majority of these “wide release” movies have captions. The other 250 new movies are independent films or “limited releases” that are not yet routinely produced with captions.

Captioned movies are made available through open captioning, Rear Window Captioning (RWC), and the DTS Cinema Subtitling System (DTS-CSS).

The number of movie theaters that show captioned movies increases every year:

– As of early 2006, 80 theaters showed open captioned movies from InSight Cinema every week and about 150 theaters showed an open captioned movie less frequently.

– About 270 theater screens have Rear Window Captioning display systems, and about 90 more will become equipped through the end of 2006.

– About 150 theater screens have DTS-CSS caption projection systems, and about 60 more will become equipped in 2006.

According to the National Association of Theater Owners, there are 5,713 movie theaters with 37,092 screens. This means that less than 1% of all the movies being shown in theaters today are shown with captions.

At the current rate that movie theaters are installing caption display equipment:

– It will take another 35 years to have one caption display system in every movie theater.

– It will take another 244 years for every movie theater to have captioned display equipment available for any captioned movie.

People who are deaf and hard of hearing are tired of waiting for the opportunity to go to the movies. They don’t want to wait another 244 years, or even another 35 years to see a movie with captions in their neighborhood theater with their children, families and friends. The NAD recommends that the Access Board review and reissue Bulletin #8 with respect to movie captioning, in consultation with the NAD.


(c)2006 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC.