Show Us the Captions! Join Me in Supporting Movie Theater Captioning

This weekend, I am attending a captioned movie with my family as part of the global awareness campaign, Show Us the Captions. Will it be movie night with James Bond, Abraham Lincoln…or the animated “Wreck-It Ralph”? Hmmm…

I have often wondered how generations before closed captioning survived animated movies.

Pete’s Dragon: Why Can’t I Understand You?
My memory goes back to the first cartoon I ever saw in a theater. Actually, “Pete’s Dragon” was part animated, part live action. There I was at the age of three with my daddy and big sister, watching a smiling green dragon breathe fun into a little boy’s life. While my mom sat at home taking care of my newborn sister, my daddy took me on an outing that changed my life. It opened a deep love of going to the movies.

Back in 1977, when young Pete meets his dragon friend and I first met the cinema, captioned movies were a fantasy. Any hope of a person with hearing loss enjoying an animated movie was to turn to the person behind them and shout, “What did he just say?” Sitting in the dark, this type of communication would be tedious at best and disruptive at worst. Thank the Lord I didn’t have hearing loss at the age of three.

Animated Movies: To Infinity and Beyond?

I am sitting in a theater with my husband, two kids, and bucket of popcorn, a set of hearing aids behind my ears. The movie: “Meet the Robinsons.” First-run captioned movies had been out for a while, but for some reason our theaters in Kansas weren’t showing many of them. “Meet the Robinsons” was no exception. While I pretended to understand every word coming from the mouth of main character Louis, my kids and hubby oohed and awwed at the words he spoke. Of what were they in awe? The only words I clearly deciphered came just prior to the closing credits. It was a printed quote from Walt Disney: “Keep moving forward.” So I took his advice and continued moving forward with my love of movies, hoping that eventually they would all have captions.

Five Years Later
Fast-fast forward to 2012. I’m sitting in a movie theater with my three kids (my family has since grown). We are celebrating the last day of the school year by going to see “The Lorax.” Since the movie has been out a while, we settled into our seats and had the whole place to ourselves. Ah! Now that’s the movie experience I most love. Then the film began playing and, lo and behold, an animated orange creature with a droopy mustache delivers the show’s opening monologue. Wait…What did he say? Not only were his lines not captioned, but the dad-gum mustache he wore covered his tiny lips. I couldn’t lip read the Lorax!

In this day and age of instant gratification and instant technology, I didn’t get what I wanted. The Lorax was a talking head without a message I could hear or decipher. Does this make sense with all the technological progress we’ve seen with animated movies since 1977?

So I left the theater, hiding my confusion and disappointment. If master film animaters can make a dragon or a boy in the future or a compassionate mustached creature seem so life-like, why can’t they allow people with hearing loss to understand their characters’ words?

Show Me the Captions…Finally
Thanks to today’s captioning technology, I can now understand everything uttered by animated characters.

So what will it be this weekend: a kid-friendly “Wreck-It Ralph” or a more sophisticated (and non-animated) Bond or “Lincoln”? Will you go to the (captioned) movies, too? Learn more at


8 thoughts on “Show Us the Captions! Join Me in Supporting Movie Theater Captioning

  1. I know what you mean! I am more than a couple of decades older than you, but only recently in my adult life did I finally figure out why I detested cartoons all of my life. The lips aren’t real, and I could never figure out what they were saying! While I loved movies, I was always disappointed when my friends chose animated films for our outings.

    My parents didn’t understand why I didn’t like Saturday morning cartoon. I didn’t understand that my deafness, or progressive hearing loss was the culprit. As far as I could figure, I heard the same as everyone else. I did not know about deafness as a child. I did not know anyone who had hearing loss or was deaf. I did not have the understanding or vocabulary.

    Our group in PA has opted for the Sony Captioned Glasses for our outing. While this is great for many, I keep thinking about these glasses from a deafened child’s perspective. Knowing how I was as a youngster, I would feel uncomfortable trying to wear these contraptions in my little head. I would also feel conspicuous at that age. Lets face it, other kids can be bullies about something like that and make things further complicated.

    My other concern is what if I broke them trying to adjust the fit? Would my parents be responsible for the replacement? And why is it kids don’t have a say when it comes to these issues? Why is it adults don’t like open caption films, therefore limiting kids on when they can go see films? Perhaps children still don’t go to animated films today for the very same reason I didn’t at that age.

    I apologize for the rant, Shanna, but I am a strong supporter of inclusion, and the best form if inclusion for everyone, I believe, is for open caption. BTW, I was reading by the age if four. As a four year old, I know I would have not done well with the glasses, but I could have followed a children’s film adequately.

    I am so pleased to see you join in with Sarah’s Big idea of “Show Us the Captions!” You can tweet about what movie you attend and use the hashtag #showusthecaptions

    Have a lovely time at the movies!

    Joyce Edmiston – Xpressive Handz

  2. I have spent maybe 20 years of my life with no movie captioning available or even any dreams of it happening. I am very thankful for today’s technologies. I also am very proactive in getting the word out to those who do not know the resources are available to them. Also to the companies, churches, etc who do not understand how much captioning means to us so we can understand their products, service and messages they relay to others who do not need captioning to fully understand. I will be at a captioned movie today to show support to theaters who have spent the money to stay up to date on technology for captioning. Won’t you join us today somewhere in a theater near you?

  3. Joyce and Terri – Thank you both for being such strong advocates for movie captioning and Show Us the Captions. We went to see “Lincoln”…Daniel Day Lewis should get the Best Actor Oscar for his exceptional portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.

  4. We do have a captioned movie once a week in Wichita, KS – and I run an email list to promote it. Unfortunately Wichita has not been as supportive. I’m guessing many of the deaf or hard of hearing refuse to associate with Wichita Association of the Deaf because of cultural differences, and just “hide out”. The theatre doesn’t quite get the “if you build it they will come” and so they show movies at the least profitable time of the week for them, and well ya know, us deaf people are kinda busy people too, so that time doesn’t always work out and as a result, those Sunday matinees are not as well attended as the theatre would like to see. Our shows use the DTS captioning technology….

  5. Pingback: About Time « INSANITY OF MOTHERHOOD motherhood midlife madness

  6. Pingback: Captioned Movies in 2021: Where Are They? | Lipreading Mom

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