Aug 29, 2016

    Tokyo helps visually impaired to watch films


    INITIATIVES in Japan to

    enable visually impaired people to enjoy movies

    in cinemas are growing.

    Thai film The Teacher's Diary, recently shown

    in Tokyo, Chiba, Aichi

    and other prefectures,

    had Japanese subtitles.

    Visually impaired audience members could listen to an audio guide that included Japanese dubbing of the lines, descriptions of the scenery and explanations of the characters' expressions and actions.

    Users listened via earphones plugged into a smartphone or other device on which they had downloaded an app.

    Creating the guide cost about 1.7 million yen (S$23,000), according to movie distributor Moviola.

    "We want as many people with disabilities

    as possible to be able to experience the enjoyment

    of watching movies at the cinema," said its president Miyuki Takei.

    The app was put on trial for six movies last year.

    The most common way to help those with impaired hearing is to add subtitles.

    Toho did so for all its 30 Japanese movies last year.

    But movies with subtitles are shown only for a certain period, limiting the screenings that can be enjoyed by those with hearing impairments.

    Recently, a device resembling glasses that allows only the wearer

    to see subtitles has been introduced. However,

    they are expensive and

    not yet in widespread use.

    A survey by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry in 2015 found that 54 per cent

    of people with visual impairments and 85 per cent of those with hearing difficulties had wanted to watch a Japanese movie at the cinema but gave up.

    "People with disabilities want to watch hit movies with those close to them and discuss their reactions together, just like everyone else," said Takako Matsuda of Palabra, which produces audio guides.