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LSC Adds Optional Movie Captions

By Michael E. Rolish


The Lecture Series Committee will provide optional captioning for many of their movies beginning this fall.

“There was a student who asked the disabilities services office if there was any captioning at LSC movies,” said LSC Chairman Alex Rolfe G. “The DSO asked LSC and the answer was ‘No, but such systems do exist.’ So we did the research on it and DSO decided to sponsor the purchase.”

The captioning system is intended for those with hearing impairments. According to Aaron M. Donaghey of the disabilities services office, there are several students with such impairments registered with the office, and probably more who are not registered.

“It’s important that everything be available and accessible to all students on campus, whether they have a physical disability, a learning disability, or a psychiatric disability,” he said.

LSC has chosen to use rear window captioning, a technology developed by WGBH, a local public television and radio broadcaster. According to WGBH’s Web site, “The Rear Window Captioning System displays reversed captions on a light-emitting diode (LED) text display which is mounted in the rear of a theater. Patrons use transparent acrylic panels attached to their seats to reflect the captions so that they appear superimposed on or beneath the movie screen. The reflective panels are portable and adjustable, enabling the caption user to sit anywhere in the theater.”

Rear window equipment has been installed in 26-100, where LSC projects most of its movies. According to MIT’s SAP financial recording system, the equipment cost over $10,000. LSC currently has six reflectors which will be provided to moviegoers on request, and will obtain more as demand dictates.

“The reflectors do an excellent job. You can position them wherever you want with respect to the screen,” said LSC projection director Erica H. Peterson ’02. “Due to the positioning of the [LED display], some places are better to sit than others.”

According to Peterson, LSC projection subdirector John A. Hawkinson researched and set up the system.

Peterson said that LSC is considering installing a similar system to accommodate visually impaired moviegoers.

Not all movies shown will have captions. Rolfe said that more popular releases would be more likely to have captions. The showing of Matrix Reloaded on Registration day will be the first LSC movie to offer captions.

“I think it’s neat,” Rolfe said. “There are a lot of things that LSC does that most college film organizations don’t do and this is certainly one of them.”