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September 27, 2003

Some upset captioning not done for ‘ice’ special

From: Honolulu Star-Bulletin, HI - Sept 27, 2003

By Helen Altonn

An attempt to blanket the state with the simultaneous broadcast of the documentary "Ice: Hawaii's Crystal Meth Epidemic" on 11 TV stations fell short, say advocates for the hearing impaired.

The documentary, aired Wednesday, was not captioned or signed for hearing-impaired viewers.

Kristine Pagano, with the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, said the film "was a big disappointment to many of us." Members of the deaf community have been e-mailing her, asking what happened, she said.

Some also were upset about Big Island Mayor Harry Kim's comment in the film, which they read in the newspapers: "You have to be dumb, deaf and ignorant not to know that we have a severe, severe problem."

Kim acknowledged yesterday that he probably shouldn't have said that but he was trying to emphasize the extent of the epidemic.

Isle filmmaker Edgy Lee, who produced the documentary, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, she expressed apologies to the hearing-impaired community in an e-mail to KHON-TV, with a copy to Pagano.

"We have no excuse other than a very tough and lean budget and little time to deliver the show, but our experience has also been in producing films from Hawaii and selling them to national networks (that provide closed captions)," she said.

"If and when we re-broadcast this program in Hawaii, we will ensure that this film is captioned."

Pagano had queried KHON because it had real-time closed captioning in a program following the documentary.

Dan Dennison, KHON-TV news director, said the station's newscasts are automatically close-captioned so no one thought of captioning the documentary.

Francine O. Wai, executive director of the Disability and Communication Access Board, said she checked with the Governor's Office and was told no government money was involved in the film so there was no requirement to caption it.

But, she said, "We would express our real dismay even though it's not necessarily a legal violation."

She said the statewide drug summit and the film were independent efforts linked for maximum impact.

"That's not an excuse," she said, "that's a technicality. If you want people to be involved and want to reach the entire community, there are people who are deaf and hard of hearing who have problems with ice and have family members in the context of these problems, and to ignore that is absolutely horrifying to me."

Many specials on TV aren't captioned for the hearing-impaired, she said, but Lee's film "was heavily promoted and it was even promoted in a way that inferred that this was a government project, even though it wasn't.

"They wanted to reach every single person no matter where you turned on the TV, and people who could not hear had none of the options available."

© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --