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September 23, 2004

New system offers captions for deaf, narration for blind

From: Toledo Blade, OH - Sep 23, 2004


Blind and hearing-impaired moviegoers can now go to the Showcase Cinemas Maumee and watch, understand, and enjoy the experience because of MoPix, a theatrical system installed at the Maumee theater.

MoPix constitutes two technologies: Rear Window Captioning, co-developed by Rufus Butler Seder, a Boston-based optical artist, and WGBH in Boston, and was installed in mid-August.

With that technology, the theater can offer first-run movies that don't appear captioned except to those who request it.

Hearing-impaired patrons use a transparent acrylic panel attached to their seat that reflects captions off an LED board installed in the back of the theater.

The MoPix system also incorporates the Descriptive Video Service technology for blind patrons. The system sends an infra-red signal to wireless headsets given to blind patrons. The user hears a narration of the movie.

At the Maumee complex, the MoPix system is installed in Theater 10. Patrons can check times and listings by calling the theater, said Jennifer Hanson, a spokesman for National Amusements, which owns the Showcase theaters. The studios decide which of their movies will offer MoPix accessibility.

Richard Lake went with his hearing-impaired son, Matthew, to see a movie at the theater after the Rear Window Captioning system was installed last month. "I think they have made a step in the right direction, even though they need to get this system in more theaters," Mr. Lake said.

Ms. Hanson said the theater chain plans to install the same system in the Levis Commons theater in Perrysburg, which is to be completed in November.

"We're very excited about the new system, and we have received terrific feedback already," Ms. Hanson said.

© 2004 The Blade.