Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington is expanding its reach to offer assistive devices for the blind, deaf and hard-of-hearing.
“As a community center we are proud of the fact that we can invite more people into our community space and benefit from our program,” said Cinema Arts Centre Director of Development René Bouchard.
Previously, Cinema Arts Centre was solely operating amplification equipment for the hard-of-hearing, but a generous donation of $15,000 from the Pless Family Fund at the Long Island Community Foundation allowed the community center to purchase more digital equipment in November.
Viewers can now anticipate an Ultra Phonic Infrared Hearing and Closed Caption System (UPC-28C0) for each of the three theaters that transmits closed captions in up to four languages. Cinema Arts Centre is now also equipped with 20 headsets that ensure maximum intelligibility for the hearing and visually impaired and 8 Closed Caption Glasses that, through engineered optics, make the captions appear as a distant “virtual image” to minimize eye strain.
Bouchard saw what life was like without these services firsthand. Last year, at a conference in Utah for nonprofit art theaters, an older gentleman who was deaf spoke about his struggles on a panel. He told the audience about how, when his sons wanted to see a movie he would take them, drop them off and go to the coffee shop to wait for them. He wouldn’t be able to see the movie until a year or two later when it came out on Netflix, but he could never go with his sons.
“I thought as a mother what that would mean to me, if I was cut out of a whole realm of experience with my family, if I didn’t have access to something I should have access to.”
For Bouchard, meeting that father and hearing his story strengthened the narrative on her funding proposal to help those in similar situations, along with the visions of co-directors Charlotte Sky and Dylan Skolnick.
“It’s one thing to know that accessibility is important and that we have a duty to serve people regardless of ability, but it’s another thing to really feel it, to make that connection to a father and his children and what accessibility to film means to that family, knowing there are families like that all over, including in our service area.”