Saturday, December 29, 2007

New technology would help the visually impaired to enjoy movies

If you disappoint the young woman shown in the photo below, I will slap you upside your head.
And I've never slapped anyone upside anything.

There was a time, in fact, when I would have gone so far as to say “I'm a lover, not a fighter.”
That was ruined after I heard Michael Jackson repeatedly sing the phrase to Paul McCartney in 1982, but I'm still not the type to engage in fisticuffs.

People who are capable of using the word “fisticuffs” are rarely capable of engaging in fisticuffs.
Things change, however.

Thanks to the determination of Kate Heidenreich, I must admit that the quest of this doggone girl is mine.

Heidenreich, who was first mentioned in this space back in February, is on the verge of achieving the salutary goal she set for herself a year ago. She just needs a little more help.

OK, a lot more help, but not as much help as she needed 10 months ago.

Heidenreich, an Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne student, has raised half of the cost of installing MoPix in one of the theaters at the Rave Motion Pictures multiplex.

MoPix (the Motion Picture Access Project) is a revolutionary new system for helping hearing- or visually impaired people enjoy movies.

Captioning, as in words scrolling across the TV or movie screen, is the established method for making programming accessible to hearing-impaired viewers.

MoPix tweaks this system with the addition of a gimcrack called a Rear Window Captioning Reflector.

The captions run in reverse at the rear of the theater and are mirrored in a reflector mounted in the patron's cupholder.

People who don't have the reflector can't see the captions.

There really is no well-established way for visually impaired viewers to enjoy programming.
MoPix rectifies this with DVS Theatrical: descriptive narration synchronized with the film and patched through headsets.

Heidenreich has raised $6,500 of the $12,500 tally. The Indiana Workers for the Blind gave $1,000; the Rave Motion Pictures corporate office gave $4,000; and Heidenreich collected the rest piecemeal through various fund-raising projects.

It goes without saying that she persuaded Rave to get on board.

And IPFW helped out by arranging a deal whereby people can donate to the MoPix project and get screen advertising at Rave in exchange.

Heidenreich believes the system will be in use by January and Rave plans to have a splashy debut. But there's the matter of that unraised $6,000.

“It's a waiting game,” Heidenreich says. “But it has been the whole time. The last time I talked to you, I hadn't even convinced a theater to agree to it.”

In the course of her fundraising efforts, Heidenreich says she heard testimonials from some visually impaired people who haven't been to the movie theater in 20 years.

“People who are blind can't go home and select the captioning option on their DVDs,” she says.
Heidenreich is working with Rave to make the theater more accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities.

She says Rave has pledged to lengthen steps, change the color of some track lighting, and offer Braille menus. And Heidenreich is training the staff in proper etiquette.

“It's just a matter of knowing to offer your arm or open a bathroom door,” she says.


Post a Comment

<< Home