Closed captions at Hoyts Broadway. What’s it like?

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011 17:29pm

The new closed caption sessions at Hoyts Broadway in Sydney have been running for a couple of weeks now. As Media Access Australia’s cinema project manager, I thought it was a good time to pop into the cinema to talk to staff and trial the system for myself.

After making my way past the mesmerising Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store at the front of the complex, I enquired about the system at the ticket counter. The staff member, although helpful, wasn’t too sure of what I was asking about but had no hesitation in calling the manager to assist me. This was the only blip in my experience at the cinema.

Location manager Daniel Wlodarczyk had all the answers I needed and rightly pointed out that the service was quite new and procedures were still being tested and finalised across all areas of the cinema.

So, what’s the experience like at Hoyts Broadway?

When you purchase your ticket you need to request a caption unit. A separate staff member (usually a shift manager or a projectionist) will come and greet you and you’ll be asked to hand over a deposit of some description, for example a set of your keys, drivers licence or credit card, which will be kept in a safe while you watch the movie.

You will then be met at the cinema door by a staff member who will hand you the CaptiView unit. Daniel did inform me that some patrons had purchased tickets an hour or so in advance of the session and gone off to do some shopping, having arranged to meet the staff member at a designated time. It’s great to see this kind of flexibility is allowed, which assures that patrons who arrive early specifically to reserve a unit are catered for.

Inside the cinema, the staff member will help you install the CaptiView unit.  (It very simply sits in the cup holder and you move the flexible neck to a position that’s comfortable for you to view the captions.) At this stage the cinema staff will accompany you into the cinema to do this, but once you are more comfortable using the unit and identify yourself as such to a staff member, the staff will leave you to it for your next visits. You will be shown how to operate the unit in case you accidentally turn it off during the movie, but the unit will be otherwise ready to go.

Once the captions began, I played around with different positions for the unit: either underneath the movie screen or at the bottom of the screen, covering some of the picture. Both positions were fine and did not cause any eye strain for me, and I liked the fact that the captions weren’t covering any of the picture or were washed out by a similar coloured picture, as can happen with open captions. Three lines of green text are on display and I found it very clear to read. Daniel, sitting next to me, said that he could not see any of the text from his seat due to the unit’s privacy screens. The privacy screens are around the entire text box and in between each line of text as well. I also imagine it would be very difficult to see the text from a seat behind me.

At the end of the captioned movie you return your CaptiView unit to the box office and your security deposit is returned to you from the safe.

It’s pertinent to note that I am not Deaf or hearing impaired. I did block my ears for the time I was in the cinema to attempt to experience what it would be like for a hearing impaired patron.

My overall experience at Hoyts Broadway was great. Daniel and his staff are very accommodating and all are keen to work with patrons to fine tune the experience. I’d recommend checking out the latest captioned movies at Hoyts Broadway, complete with a Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream. 

Ally Woodford

Project Manager, Cinema & DVD

Media Access Australia


Important note: Your views are important. The Accessible Cinema Advisory Group is encouraging all movie patrons to comment on their experiences at captioned locations. Your comments, whether positive or negative, will assist in creating a better system for all the cinemas. We look forward to hearing from you at e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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