The Little Advocacy That Could

As soon as I found out the outdoor movie night is back at Canada Place I knew I wanted to go as part of my summer goal to do more outdoor activities (okay, maybe sitting on the floor for 2 and a half hour doesn’t count).  The first question that pops into mind was: will there be captioning?  Given this day and age one would think that all movies will come with captioning (e.g., rear-window captions at movie theatres), but one mustn’t assume that considering few in-flight entertainments have captioning features.

So on Monday July 24th I called the organizer of the Waterfront Cinema and asked if there will be captioning.  The response: “Oh we didn’t think of that!”.  This shows that there is still lots of work to be done in raising public awareness about providing hearing accessibility and making this into a standard practice.  The organizer appreciated my call and said that the captions could be easily arranged.  On a personal note it was a very friendly conversation and it sparked an interest in learning about the needs of people with hearing loss.  On Thursday it was the first night and there it is, the beautiful text of lines shining brightly on the screen.  It was even big enough that people at the back can see clearly.  5 of us (and who knows how many more) were carried away into La La Land, fully immersed in the dancing and singing

3 Days!  That’s all it took to make this happen with a simple phone call.  Many of us may have felt discouraged as we constantly battle large institutions for accessibility rights with emails being unanswered and phone calls unreturned.  However, let this experience serve as a glimmer of hope and inspiration that we can still make a difference no matter how small it may seem. Let this remind us of our inner voices that keep saying “I think I can, I think I can..”, just like The Little Engine That Could.


If there is an event that you want to advocate for hearing accessibility here are the some helpful strategies to increase your likelihood of success:

1) Introduce yourself as a member of Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – organizers tend to respond better to a request associated with a group compared to an individual.  State that there will be others with hearing loss attending this event.

2) Keep your request simple – ask for one thing only (the one that is the most important) and then gauge the receptiveness towards this request before moving on to another one.

3) Explain how the request will benefit all – in the case of captioning I talked about benefitting the seniors and English Language learners.  Organizers will be more likely to accommodate the request when they see the scope.

4) Delivering a Thank You – call or email the organizer after the event to thank them for providing accessibility.  State that you will publicize your experience just as I am doing now as a way to recognize their effort to create an accessible and inclusive community.