SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A hearing-impaired Santa Monica teenager lobbied a major movie chain to offer closed captioning in its theaters.
Johnny Butchko, 14, who was born deaf, originally began to pressure AMC Santa Monica 7 on Third Street Promenade to get the accessibility devices as part of a school community service project.
“All my life I’ve never been able to watch a video in Santa Monica,” he said.
Chris Butchko, Johnny’s father, said, “Anytime you have a child that has any handicap, you don’t want them to be excluded from anything…for any reason. For him to miss all the popular culture we have that’s so tied into movies because he couldn’t hear what’s going on was a big loss to him.”
The teenager spoke to numerous city officials and councils about the necessity of the devices for the deaf and hard of hearing.
“I think one of the reasons we didn’t have it was because no one knew we didn’t have it. No one spoke up,” said Johnny.
Last month, the Parent Teacher Association Council passed a resolution in support of the technology.
Days later, AMC Santa Monica 7 had the CaptiView wireless device available, which is inserted in the cup holder of the seat and displays the words on a small screen.
Ryan Noonan, an AMC spokesperson, said, “While we continue to work toward a permanent solution to our technology challenges at all our theaters in California and around the country, we’ve installed a temporary fix in several auditoriums throughout California, including AMC Santa Monica 7.”
Activist Nanci Linke-Ellis, a longtime captioning advocate, applauded AMC’s move.
She said every movie theater needs to make the devices available and user-friendly.
“All of the captions are on the hard drives. It’s just a matter of the theater setting it up as part of the playlist,” Linke-Ellis said.