The film festival focuses on improving access to films and television for people with sensory disabilities


LOS ANGELES (KABC) – The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles has just launched a year-long film festival that aims to provide greater access for people with sensory disabilities through open captions, audio description and support from an application.

The kickoff featured Oscar nominated director Doug Roland. His Oscar nominated short, “Feeling Through”, depicts his actual encounter with a deaf and blind man; the role was played by a deaf and blind actor.

“Really, unfortunately, the film industry, for the most part, is not accessible right now. This is something that is very difficult to find,” said Mayra Castrejón-Hernández, president of Deaf Women of Color.

Castrejón-Hernández, who is a hearing impaired person, was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She then studied at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and now heads Deaf Women of Color, an organization created to empower women to access resources and create solutions.

“I actually like classic Mexican black and white movies. I like them. And there are gestures, you’ll see how they show the emotion and they, they bring it to the screen. I think it is. ‘is great. But do I understand what they are’ No, because there is no captioning, ‘Castrejón-Hernández said.

She added that she often depended on her brother or a friend to perform movies for her. Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project trains filmmakers and is one of many organizations investing in fair access.

“QWOCMAP is working on audio description for our entire film festival,” said T. Kebo Drew, Managing Director of QWOCMAP. “At our film festival, we only accept movies with subtitles, and we also have ASL performers. We also have for our digital events, we have live subtitles.”

National Association of the Deaf CEO Howard A. Rosenblum told Eyewitness News that festivals are known to be inaccessible. Often times the closed caption is not even provided, or even when it is, participants cannot see the closed captions due to excruciating line of sight. Thanks to advocacy from NAD and other groups, Rosenblum said almost 100% of TV shows are captioned.

“However, TV commercials are often not captioned and network promotions are rarely captioned,” Rosenblum said. “The film industry can ensure that all films released to theaters as well as to film festivals are released with open captioning and closed captioning. This does not require training or investment, but rather the willingness of the industry to commit to full accessibility. “

How can individuals and businesses improve access for all?

“Do people have an open mind? If this is really the case, can I understand the other point of view, the point of view of a deaf person who wishes to use or access their media? Often times they focus on other groups, but people tend not to. focus on deaf people, ”said Castrejón-Hernández.

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