The Arts

Accessible cinema to get a legislative boost in the USA

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Last week the United States Attorney General signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which recommends amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act to provide captioning and audio description of movies.

The ruling will provide a consistent approach across the United States for cinemas to exhibit closed captioned and audio described movies. While the majority of movies released by American studios have captions and audio description, the number of cinemas making use of these features is varies widely across the country.

Some of the rulemaking inclusions are:


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Leading the field - Betty Siegel

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Betty Siegel, Director of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, is a driving force in accessible arts across America. Her wealth of experience makes her a prime candidate for our 'experts in access' series. Ally Woodford, one of Media Access Australia's project managers, took the opportunity to interview Betty as she prepares for the upcoming LEAD conference.

1. What is your role and how long have you been in it?


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Annual LEAD conference for accessible arts set for August

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Chicago will host the annual Leadership Exchange in the Arts and Disability (LEAD) conference from 1-6 August this year, bringing together arts practitioners from around the world.

Established in 2000, LEAD attracts people in the arts industry whose common goal is to create cultural arts programs that are inclusive of people with disabilities and seniors. Presenters from around the world bring their expertise to the stage and this year’s conference includes presentations on:


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Describing Judy Dixey

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Judy Dixey is the Executive Director of VocalEyes, the United Kingdom’s premier audio description company for performing arts. After ten very productive years at the helm Judy is retiring at the end of July, but we couldn’t let her go without a final interview. Media Access Australia project manager Ally Woodford chatted with Judy, exploring her achievements and what she’s doing next.

1. How long have you been with VocalEyes?

The post of Executive Director was advertised in summer of 2004 and I was appointed in September, so it’s jolly nearly ten years.


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UK theatre captioners receive research funding

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UK charity Nesta has just announced its latest round of funding recipients under its Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts. One of the recipients is the UK’s premier arts captioning organisation, Stagetext. 

Stagetext is developing CaptionCue, an automated caption cueing system which will make it cheaper for venues to offer captioning for certain theatre productions to Deaf and hearing impaired arts patrons.  The system is being developed in London by Stagetext with Screen Subtitling Systems Ltd and Dr Pablo Romero-Fresco of Roehampton University.


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Accessible media and the autism spectrum

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Today is World Autism Awareness Day. While many may be familiar with issues facing people with autism spectrum disorders, few are aware of the difference accessible media can make. 

Judith Garman, a researcher in the UK has done extensive work in this area. “Captions and audio description are a metaphorical ramp and provide a different kind of value to people on the autistic spectrum,” wrote Garman in 2011.


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Captioned theatre funding program for US regional venues

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American not-for-profit organisation Theatre Development Fund (TDF) is offering two-year partnerships to regional venues to provide open captioning of performances. The partnerships introduce new audiences to captioned theatre and inspire theatre companies to continue with a caption service at the partnership’s completion.

The partnerships, developed as the National Open Captioning Initiative, are funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the MetLife Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The funding is put directly towards the service and its promotion, as opposed to providing a cheque to the partners.


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