As the child of deaf adults, or CODA, Brad Klein is used to watching shows with captions on. However, he said that he discovered during a recent eight-hour flight, there were only five movies available to watch that offered captioning.
When Klein, 34, boarded his flight from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 8, his initial excitement for the in-flight entertainment soon dissipated, telling Newsweek that “availability of captioning and subtitles varies widely.”
Klein said that onboard the SAS Airlines flight there were just five movies with English closed captioning – which provides captions for all the audio, not just speech.
Klein himself isn’t deaf, and he explained that he “could have technically watched any of the movies,” but as he grew up as a proud CODA, he would “much prefer watching with subtitles.”
“My flight had five of the 99 movies with closed captioning, and another 10 had English subtitles available,” he continued. “I am a hearing CODA and both of my parents are deaf.
“I was raised in a deaf household where captions were on the television all the time. It’s what I’m used to, and I prefer to watch television and movies with captions and subtitles on.”
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) says that captioning is necessary in some contexts, under civil rights laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is usually to provide access to services that are open to the public, such as venues, healthcare, employment, and public services.
However, this doesn’t cover all audio and visual material, and the NAD points out that when it comes to movie studios and producers, captions are included on a voluntary basis.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NAD, Howard A. Rosenblum shared his dismay that captions aren’t readily available for all in-flight entertainment nowadays, meaning they will continue to advocate for better accessibility.
Rosenblum told Newsweek: “Given that every movie shown on an airplane is already captioned elsewhere, there is absolutely no reason why the same content is not captioned while shown on airplanes.
“The National Association of the Deaf has long advocated for 100 percent captioning of all content on airplanes,” he said. “Many deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, hard of hearing, and late-deafened folks are frustrated when flying, only to find very little or no options on the in-flight entertainment screen that are captioned. On top of that, aural announcements by airline staff on flights are not accessible.”
Rosenblum added that the U.S. Department of Transportation “missed an opportunity” to resolve this issue by not acting to improve the current standards.
There is still a great deal that can be done to make the world more inclusive for the deaf community.
Klein said that unfortunately, instances like his “happen all too often.” By speaking out about his inflight experience, Klein has come to realize how many people rely on subtitles.
“A look into the comments on my video shows that this is not just an issue that affects deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals,” he said. “So many hearing people commented that they not only want but need captions or subtitles for a variety of reasons.
“There are so many reasons why someone would want the option of having captions available—they might have auditory processing issues, didn’t bring headphones, and not to mention that airplanes are loud.”
Klein feels strongly that it’s not just the 6 percent of U.S. adults with hearing impairments who would benefit from captions being more widely available. By posting a video about his experience on Instagram (@oncloudkl3in), he hopes to shine a light on what can be done to improve this problem.
“Captioning is essential for some but useful for all,” he said. “So many people from all walks of life have commented, shared and sent me messages supporting my video. I am grateful to all the people who have helped amplify my video and shared it directly with the airlines. I hope it brings change and that one day all movies and tv shows on airlines are captioned.”
After Klein posted the Instagram video on May 10, it generated over 4.6 million views and over 259,000 likes. Thousands of social media users showed their support by commenting on the post to praise Klein for speaking out.
One commenter wrote: “Agreed! I’m not even deaf. I just have auditory processing issues so it’s much easier for me to watch using captions. When I see there are no captions I get angry for deaf people.”
Newsweek reached out to SAS Airlines via email for comment. We could not verify the details of this case.
Do you have any similar experiences that you want to share? Send them to [email protected] and they could appear on our site.
The post Man Has Very Specific Complaint About In-Flight Movies—And Internet Agrees appeared first on Newsweek.