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April 24, 2005

Media Release and Announcement Open Captioning in Southeast Texas

From: The T R A C E Y Project - Apr 24, 2005

TTP The T R A C E Y Project
Media Release and Announcement Open Captioning in Southeast Texas
Contact: Lenora Consulting Group (409) 892-0689

It's Not a Rumor! It's real! Open Captioned Movies Are Coming to Southeast Texas Making it Possible for Residents Who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing to Enjoy Film Entertainment Closer to Home.

Beginning May 1st and 2nd Southeast Texas (SET) residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing no longer need to travel long distances to enjoy a captioned movie. Even for residents of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Houston and Nacogdoches were the nearest cities showing open captioned films. Now, CineMark Theater in Beaumont will show open captioned movies every Sunday and Monday of each month beginning with Phantom of the Opera followed by Sahara in June.

"Going to the movies has long been a favorite activity for many Americans. I couldn't imagine not being able to enjoy a featured film with family and friends," said Ms. Anquinetta Lee, Manager of CineMark. "This is a unique opportunity. We couldn't let it pass us by."

It began nearly a year ago with the efforts of Tracey Michol. She graduated from Lamar University with her Masters Degree in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. She wanted to make a difference in her community and began The T R A C E Y Project, so named by Pastor Peter Miller of Wesley United Methodist Church, to address issues of residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. Born deaf, Ms. Michol lived the experience, making the drive to Houston or waiting for a film to come out on DVD.

"Sometimes the trips were a nice break. Dinner, a movie, shopping, but the drives were long," said Ms. Michol. "I hope this step benefits all with a hearing loss. People who are deaf, people losing their hearing, families with members who are deaf, and people who hear with friends who do not. I hope open captioning is a welcomed addition for everyone."

Many can benefit. Those with hearing losses and those who hear, as explained by Dr. Jean

E. Andrews Ph.D., Professor of Deaf Education at Lamar University, "Providing English open-captioning at the movies benefits the whole Beaumont community: deaf and hard of hearing students, middle-age and elderly persons with mild to profound hearing loss, and English as a second language learners. It may even help hearing children build vocabulary and reading skills. It's a win-win situation for all of Beaumont."
After meeting with Southeast Texas Association of the Deaf, Ms. Michol was encouraged to add captioned films to her list of projects. With diverse and scattered grass roots support she contacted Ms. Lee at CineMark and Steve Ellis at InSight Cinema in Santa Monica, California. With the right players together, the initial step was completed.

"I'm excited to see this next step where everyone can enjoy the entertainment venues of our city," said Beaumont City Councilwoman Nancy Beaulieu. "Bringing open captioning to Southeast Texas is a win-win situation for all who live here and conduct business here. It's one of those small steps that can make a world of difference. It didn't take millions of dollars, just the desire of one person presenting an opportunity for us all to be a part of something good."

Phantom of the Opera is scheduled to show at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM on May 1st and 2nd . The ticket price for the 1:00 PM showing is $5.00 on both days. The 7:00 PM showing is $6.75.

For more information, call CineMark Tinseltown 15 at 409-840-4432, or visit:

A letter writing campaign is underway as show of support for this part of the process. Residents, businesses and community leaders are asked to participate. If you would like to send a letter of support to keep the process moving, please address it to:

Ms. Anquinetta Lee, Manager
CineMark Tinseltown 15
3855 IH-10 South
Beaumont, TX 77705
Send email to Ms. Lee at

Ms. Tracey Michol at
Mr. Steve Ellis at

InSight Cinema is a nonprofit outreach program which advocates literacy through captioning first run feature films to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing and speak English as a Second Language. The organization works with studios and theater chains to bring captioned movies to audiences around the country. Approximately 50 films are shown via open caption in more than 300 cities. Beaumont serving Southeast Texas is now one of them. Your letters of support will help in future discussions with movie studios and those who make decision about which movies to caption. For more information, contact Steve Ellis at 310-452-8706 or via email at

Special thanks to members of the Southeast Texas Association of the Deaf, members of Wesley United Methodist Church, students of Lamar University, members of Beaumont Police Department, residents of Beaumont, Lufkin, Port Arthur, Vidor, Orange, Baytown and Houston, Texas for their support.

"It's great to be able to go to a movie closer to Vidor. I think my friends and others who are deaf will also be excited. We have needed something like this for a long time."

Jessica Porter

Resident of Vidor

(As she communicated in American Sign Language)

"I am proud that S.E.T.A.D. was able to participate in Tracey's Project to bring open captioned movies to Beaumont. This will enable the deaf and hard of hearing communities of Southeast Texas to enjoy the movie-going experience."

Franklin D. Tippet,

Southeast Texas Association of the Deaf (S.E.T.A.D.)

"Tracey's efforts to raise awareness in the community are to be applauded. A little understanding by people who care can go a long way towards bringing us closer together. We are excited to be a part of this process by educating our officers and reaching out to the residents who are deaf. We're planning workshops in June and will announce them."

Chris Schuldt, Training Sergeant

Beaumont Police Department

"We're excited about the outcome. It gives Deaf people an opportunity to equally enjoy a program. Many people do not realize that deafness is a disability. I encourage Deaf people to become involved in their communities to build awareness and solutions. My office is also available to help businesses and organizations improve access to activities from city council meetings to employment opportunities. We serve people who are deaf and those who are not deaf, and it's free."

Donald Landry Donald Landry, Regional Specialist
Project funded by Southeast Texas with Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). For more information call 409-835-5513.

"We talk to people everyday who are planning to move to Southeast Texas. They're coming from Houston, others parts of Texas, other states and even other countries. Many we see are families anxious to learn about our cities, looking for familiar and new experiences. Open captioning represents a positive change, one that we will be proud to tell new residents about."

Nancy Ashworth, Regional Supervisor

Leyendecker Management Group

"The project's beginnings in the church are not as important as understanding that we all have gifts. Our greatest gift to God is putting the gifts he gives us to good use. This is a major step, and there is so much more for us to do. I hope people are inspired by the steps Tracey has taken. This is a wonderful example of how we can all put the gifts of our life to work for the betterment of everyone."

Peter Miller, Associate Minister

Wesley United Methodist Church

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