Only 1 film in the this year's festival lineup offers closed captioning services.
Film critic Michael McNeely, who is deaf and partially blind, gave up going to the film festival this year because of the barriers he faces.
From teleprompter to Associate Producer, Ali Chiasson worked many desks at CBC News Network before stepping in front of the cameras at CBC Toronto. Ali covers a wide range of breaking and feature stories and has a special knack for people profiles. Off the clock, Ali is happiest walking through Bloordale with headphones on, picking through local produce markets, sipping bubble tea and snapping pics of street art.
TIFF organizers say they strive to make the festival lineup more accessible year-after-year but they say it's the producers and the studios — not the festival itself — who decide whether they'll provide deaf and/or blind viewers with closed captioning and descriptive audio.
That's not good enough for some critics, who say the festival doesn't do enough to cater to people with disabilities and it should push the people who make the movies to provide more accessibility.
CBC Toronto sat down with film critic Michael McNeely, who happens to be hearing impaired and visually impaired due to a rare genetic disorder. After making several of his complaints about the festival's accessibility last year, he says he has given up on TIFF 2017.
"I have decided not to attend this year because I don't really feel welcome," McNeely said. "There is only one film that is accessible at this time," he said, referring to Brad's Status, which is the only movie in the festival lineup to be available in closed captioning and descriptive sound.
There were three accessible films last year.
Toronto International Film Festival should have more closed captions, film fan says McNeely says he used to make the best out of TIFF by purchasing tickets for foreign films, simply because they would at least have subtitles. However, he says, subtitles lack the description of scenes and sounds a visually and/or hearing impaired moviegoer, let alone a movie reviewer like McNeely, requires to take in a film.