A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be a panellist to discuss a film in the Human Rights Festival. The film was called Nobody’s Perfect. Since it has an English title I was unconcerned until I was given a copy to preview. Imagine my chagrin, well really my frustrated pissed offness when I couldn’t follow it because much of the dialogue was in German! We tried having it read to me but that is too slow and disruptive, so basically I had to say “no” and explain that subtitled movies are inaccessible to people with low vision or who are blind, and that’s even before you even consider audio description.
Its just as well I found out in advance or it would have been embarrassing for both me and the organisers.
Movies in mainstream cinemas or festivals are never advertised as being subtitled, unless they are captioned for Deaf audiences.
I didn’t attend the screening but heard afterwards that one of the panellists was from the medical school! I know the film was about so called “thalidomides” and no disrespect is intended to that person. But surely we should expect anyone who is involved in human rights activities to have got beyond medicalising disability – even if the subject is related to impairment as the result of drug companies marketing a product after it was know to have side effects.
Disability and human rights are obviously not yet subjects that everyone in the human rights community in New Zealand has quite got to grips with yet. How long will it take?
The festival has finished in Wellington and finishes today in Auckland, but has still time to run in Christchurch and Dunedin.