Why Should Movie Theaters Include Open Captions? [Plus, Reasons You Probably Didn’t Consider]
Learn the benefits of open captions and why they should be a standard option in all movie theatres that the team of Nagish prepared for you!
There's no doubt that we're moving toward a more accessible world. In October 2021, AMC Theaters, the world's largest movie theater chain, added open captions at most of their U.S. locations, and as of May 2022, movie theaters in New York City now provide open captions in some of their movie showings, pursuant to NYC Administrative Code section 20-699.7.
If you want to learn about the benefits of open captions in theaters and the future of accessibility in the entertainment world, this post is for you.
Plus, you’ll learn the benefits of having open captions in theaters that go beyond serving the deaf and hard of hearing community.
What Are Captions?
Captions are a synchronized text version of the audio of a video that appears on the screen and transcribes the dialogue, identifies speakers, and describes other relevant sounds and context cues that help a viewer follow the scene.
For example, if country music is playing in the background, captioning would include this text on the screen (Country music playing). If someone slams a door, the text would say (Door slams). It even gives cues for silence (Silence).
Are Captions The Same as Subtitles?
Closed captions are not to be mistaken for subtitles. Subtitles are mostly used as a translation for viewers who may not speak the language, but they make the film more accessible.
What Is The Difference Between Open and Closed Captions?
One thing that often causes confusion is the difference between open and closed captions.
The main difference between open and closed captions is that open captions are burned into a video track, so they're permanently on screen and cannot be turned off, whereas closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.
What Are The Disadvantages of Closed Captions?
Closed captions place the responsibility on the user to understand how to turn captions on, either on their television sets or in their media viewer software. Also, they tend to experience slight delays appearing on screen in sync with the scene, so you may have trouble following the plot.
Inevitably there are instances when this technology fails, either from a malfunction or simply the battery dies, resulting in missing a large section of the movie. Unfortunately, some theatres often forget to charge their devices. Frustrating, we know.
What are The Benefits of Open Captions in Theaters?
Now that you know the difference between open captions and closed captions, you might be wondering what are the benefits of using open captions over closed captions.
There are plenty of benefits of open captions in theaters — the first to be a step forward in inclusive programming and entertainment — but we narrowed our list down to 7.
7 Benefits of Including Open Captions in Theaters
01. Increased accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing community:
Open captions make movie-going more accessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and it encourages them to attend showtimes.
02. Inclusive programming:
Inclusive programming not only improves the viewing experience for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it also incentivizes movie theater owners to cater to their needs because it brings an additional revenue stream.
03. Support for language learners:
Open captions in theaters help people understand movies in their non-native language, especially for language learners who may better understand the content if they can read it while they listen.
04. Encouragement for reading:
Open captions are a great support for children and adults who are learning to read. Plus, simultaneously reading and hearing the same content can help focus attention and reinforce information.
05. Clarity with accents:
Text accompanying audio can help understand accents, technical terms, and turns of phrases.
With background noise and chatter, movie theaters can become distracting. Open captions ensure that even hearing individuals can catch all the details of the movie, even when someone's phone isn't in silent mode.
07. Enhanced movie-watching experience:
Open captions can enhance the overall viewing experience by providing an additional layer of information for viewers.
Why Should Theaters Use Open Captions?
The use of open captions in theaters is a step toward making entertainment accessible for everyone, not just the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Open captions benefit a wide range of individuals, including language learners, those new to a particular culture or language, and those with difficulty understanding accents or technical terms.
Open captions also provide an opportunity for more inclusive programming, which can lead to increased attendance and revenue for movie theater owners. With the recent adoption of open captions by major movie theater chains and regulations being put in place by some cities, it is clear that the demand for accessibility in entertainment is growing. By using open captions, theaters can take a proactive step toward creating a more inclusive and accessible environment for all movie-goers.