Friday, August 26, 2011

Different Perspectives

I was thinking the other day about my thought processes and the way your thoughts change when you have to deal with the loss of a sense (hearing, sight, etc) or mobility. I think it is so interesting how your perspective can change so completely when you suddenly have to deal with it for whatever reason.

I was mainly thinking about movies and having a conversation with my in-laws about captioned and the ADA requirements at theaters. The content of the conversation wasn't as important as was my realization about how I think about going to the movies.

When I want to go to the movies, I have to think about what actors are in the movie and how well I am going to be able to understand them. For example, if I know there are a lot of actors with accents unfamiliar to me, I usually don't go or pass it up. If I'm feeling hopeful I look online for open captioned movies, though this is usually hopeless. As the movie starts I end up worrying about the sound quality in the opening scenes. Is the music so loud it's drowning out the dialogue? Is the dialogue rushed and muddled and mumbled? Are they ever going to have a scene in daylight so I can see the actors' lips?

Usually I can understand many movies I go to. Some, like Push, become nearly impossible for reasons I'm not sure of. (I think I understood one sentence out of every five or six in that movie.) Some I avoid and miss out on seeing in the theater. (I'd really like to go see David Tennant in Fright Night, but am I going to be able to understand him?) I wait till they come out on DVD or Blu-Ray so I can watch it with subtitles at home and pause and rewind if need be.

But I understand the same thought process doesn't go through everyone's mind. A lot of people go see whatever movie they want to see. So it got me thinking about the things a lot of people take for granted, that some don't.

Like parking. I park wherever, and it might mean a few extra steps, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter the way it matters to someone who has difficulty or experiences pain walking. I can go wherever and walk from the far end of the parking lot. Someone with mobility challenges has to consider whether there are adequate accessible parking spots, ramps, etc.

Or reading the menu at a restaurant. My sister-in-law brought up this one the other night. Just imagine having to carefully consider your accessibility options just to get some food. Are the people at McDonald's going to understand you can't see the tiny text on the glowing screen, or is the server at the restaurant going to patiently explain the menu options? And do you want to deal with the potential embarassment?

Or even walking around a store. There is a gentleman in my community who has a very large power scooter tricked out with an umbrella and some other cool stuff. It's larger than a wheelchair so he has to consider where he can go. The aisles at Wal-mart may not be a problem but he can't just go browse at a small bookstore or look around a little shop.

Not to mention other people's daily concerns such as the availability of bathrooms (I have IBS so I get that one completely), lighting, how easily a door opens, etc.

It's one reason I am so grateful to accommodating laws like the ADA. Not only does the ADA help provide guidelines and rules to follow but it also opens people's eyes to problems they may not even think about. Some perspective is always useful and I think thought exercises like this help me see how other people see the world.

As an aside, as I was writing this post, someone linked to this excellent post about the Spoon Theory. It is an excellent way to illustrate what I am talking about, and also provides another perspective of something I have rarely thought about, of life with chronic pain. A relevant quote:
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.


  1. Sorry for the Anon, but the link to Google is not working.

    IMHO, the standard for the new digital films should be letterbox (narrow strip at top and bottom) with captions over the letterbox filler strips, for *every* movie. The captions would not overlay any of the action onscreen. Once audiences got used to the captions, they would simply be part of the scene. Once filmmakers got used to the full time captions, they'd find inventive ways to make use of the captions as a part of the storytelling.

    We need to find a way to have a voice in setting the digital standards.


  2. Interesting blog. Since my town is small, I usually wait until the movie release on DVD.

  3. Hello Megan
    Great blog and interesting stuff here - just found your site.
    I was surprised by you saying "I'd really like to go see David Tennant in Fright Night, but am I going to be able to understand him?"

    In the UK we have captioned Cinema and I've set up a website to list all captioned Cinema in North West of England see

    Surely with ADA you have captioned movies in the USA? Or are they just difficult to find or show so few films?



  4. Hi Mickey,
    Yes, it's very challenging to find captioned movies here. I just looked at my two local movie theaters - Harkins Theatres has no open captioned movies currently playing and AMC Theatres is only showing one, "The Help", an hour away from my location.

    It's very challenging here! But good job on your site! :)

  5. Glad to hear you've got some captioned movies but as you say 1 hour drive away is a bit much...

    I am hoping that more promotion of captioned movies will lead to more demand and the Cinemas showing more of them at realistic times.

  6. Different perspectives are good for Nevada.


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