Campbelltown cinema offers captions to help deaf viewers

Excited: Deaf community advocate Tracey Clissold and Jay Hunt from Ability Links signing the symbol for movies in Auslan. Picture: Kayla Osborne
Excited: Deaf community advocate Tracey Clissold and Jay Hunt from Ability Links signing the symbol for movies in Auslan. Picture: Kayla Osborne

Most Macarthur residents enjoy watching a movie at the cinemas but for Tracey Clissold it has been a difficult or uncomfortable experience.

The Campbelltown resident was born deaf, which means watching a movie is not a simple task.

But now Ability Links, Dumaresq Street Cinema and the Campbelltown deaf community have come together to host closed captioned (subtitled) movie sessions.

Ms Clissold told the Advertiser through an Auslan interpreter that she had been advocating for captioned movies in Macarthur for “a very long time”.

“After meeting Jay from Ability Links, and a lot of planning and consultation, we finally worked it out,” she said.

“There is now a captioned session held every third Saturday of every month.

“The deaf community were gobsmacked when they came and saw captions on the big screen – everyone was so excited and thrilled.

“When it finished they all congratulated me and patted me on the back. They said they couldn’t wait for the next one.”

Some cinemas offer closed captioned devices, private hand-held screens that can be read as the movie plays on the big screen, or a hearing loop which taps into a person’s hearing aid. 

Mrs Clissold said these devices were uncomfortable and sometimes meant she would miss out on half the action.

“You have to look up and down at the screens,” she said.

“Having the captions is so much better.”

This isn’t just for deaf people, we want to include all abilities and build a stronger community.

Tracey Clissold

There are only four cinemas in NSW with subtitled movies available: Cronulla, Randwick, Newcastle and now Campbelltown.

“Hopefully it will spread and more theatres will take it on board in future,” Ms Clissold said.

“This isn’t just for deaf people, we want to include all abilities and build a stronger community.”

The sessions can also help people who are learning English as a second language and children who are learning how to read.

The next closed caption (subtitiled) movie session will be held on Saturday, September 16 at Dumaresq Street Cinema.

To vote for which movie you would like to see and to find out what time the session will be held, visit the Captioned Movies  Campbelltown NSW Facebook page.