A negative experience has turned into an opportunity for change for Melbourne’s deaf community. In April a group of about 40 deaf people attended an advertised open captions screening of The Avengers at Village Cinemas at the Sunshine Marketplace.
The group quickly realised that something had gone wrong and there were no captions. One member of the group, Alexandra McKenzie, unsatisfied with resolution of the problem on the day, took to Facebook to express her disappointment. The post was shared almost 400 times. Ms McKenzie said the opportunity to highlight the situation had resulted in significant change. “All the noise we made has resulted in about triple the amount of captioned screenings and regular times for seven Village cinema locations across Victoria,” she said.
“I was so grateful people were willing to take the time to care about the issue. I hope it can bring about lasting change. “There’s a long way to go, but this kind of response shows the world is ready to listen to this particular issue.” Ms McKenzie said it was encouraging that Village Cinemas management was willing to listen. “Village were really receptive,” she said. “We met with them and it was really positive. They’re the only major chain in Australia that I know of that are making attempts to do this.” Ms McKenzie said she would like to see the company add an accessibility page to their website with further information for those who need it and session times. And she said she would like to see regular deaf-friendly screenings at more venues become a reality.