Written by Tribune Wires
Inspired by the warm response to the first simultaneous movie screenings for the deaf and blind last year, SM Supermalls opened more theaters for the special screening to cater to more audience in other parts of the country.
From four theaters last year, SM’s Movies for the Deaf and Blind, the first of its kind in the country, has been expanded to 31 malls all over the country, reaching more people with visual and hearing impairments.
Conducted in partnership with the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), Deaf-Blind Support Philippines (DBSP), CALL Foundation and SM Cinemas, 31 malls held simultaneous screenings of movies especially suited for the deaf and blind. The movies featured an audio-description and closed captioning to benefit the visually impaired and deaf audience.
SM launched the program last 2013 with a single screening at the SM Megamall. Buoyed up by the positive feedback, SM, through its corporate social responsibility arm SM Cares, expanded the program to four malls in 2014.
Edgardo “Bong” Garcia, president of DBSP, said they initiated the project as it is part of their advocacy to provide accessibility of information and all forms of communication for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
“We want all mediums to be available to PWDs and that includes visual and audio entertainment for the Deaf and Blind because it allows them the simple pleasures of watching movies,” Garcia said. “In audio-described movies, concise narration of action and key visual scenes are inserted into pauses in between dialogs for additional context to visually impaired watchers. Closed captioning not only displays spoken dialog as printed words but also identifies speakers, indicates sound effects, music and laughter for the benefit of deaf audience.”
This year, SM extended the program even more to include more malls and make the screening quarterly instead of just a once-a-year screening.
Asked on why SM agreed to be a partner in the program, Bien Mateo, SM’s vice president for operations and program director of Disability Affairs of SM Cares, explained this is consistent with the thrust of SM in prompting inclusion rather than segregation.
“It has been part of the corporate social responsibility of SM to make all SM malls a Mall for All, that no one gets left behind, even those members of the family that are physically challenged such as the blind and the deaf. This is one way to integrate them in our society, for them to enjoy the malls and all their offerings just like everyone else,” he stressed.
He said the whole PWD community expressed its warm gratitude for the pioneering effort of SM to hold the event.
“They really enjoyed the movies and cherished them as a rare opportunity to witness and experience the special screening. They look forward to the next screenings,” he said.
He added the whole SM community is extremely elated for the strong and positive response that they got from their partners and the public.
“We are truly inspired by the warm response. Slowly, we are making it a new lifestyle for the PWD community, especially those who are visually and hearing impaired. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with MTRCB, DBSP & CALL Foundation and we look forward to more movie dates with our PWD community,” Mateo said.