Thursday 27 October 2011

Captions on plane flights

This morning I got up, got dressed and left my house 25 minutes earlier than usual simply because I neglected to look at my watch while getting ready.

Striding down my road – in the dark – it suddenly occurred to me that it was rather quiet… and dark, and sure enough the time was a good enough explanation for this.

To celebrate my stupidity, I treated myself to a cheese and Marmite panini in Starbucks and read my book. And now, I actually feel rested as I start my working day.

This week has been one of barely suppressed excitement, because next week I am going on holiday – and before any burglars get any ideas, I have a housesitter, a very marvellous one indeed.

In preparation for my holiday, which includes a long-haul flight, I emailed the airline – British Airways – to ask them about what provisions they made for deaf people with regards to in-flight entertainment.

I asked this because there is nothing worse than having a whole load of movies at your fingertips and not being able to watch them. And I know this because a few years ago, when flying to Istanbul, I watched a whole movie with the language channel on French and didn't notice.

So anyway, their customer services team got back to me incredibly quickly and informed me that the flight I was going on was a shared service with American Airlines. She also told me that  American Airlines have plug sockets – even in economy – so, as long as I bring an adaptor, I can take a portable DVD player with me and watch subtitled movies to my heart's content!

How about that?

I was also told that there has been a note added to my booking so that the crew will know that I can't hear.

I know that offering a plug socket  is not the same as offering accessible in-flight entertainment, but it's a start, isn't it?

But what I want to know, is why there isn't an accessible entertainment system available on planes. SouperLouper got in touch and told me that on a recent Malaysian Airline flight she took, all the films had English subtitles. And the few times I've flown with Turkish Airlines, there's always been some subtitled movies, too. But English-speaking airlines just don't seem to offer this.

Indeed, a guest blogger and Twitter mate, Caroline O'Neil also looked into this issue, and her experience can be found here.

Rather alarmingly, what she discovered was that air travel is exempt from the Equality Act 2010.

How the heck does that make sense?

A quick google reveals that Emirates is also now offering captioned films, so hopefully other airlines will soon follow. But in the meantime, I think the only solution is to travel on non-English speaking airlines. At least that way, SOMETHING will be subtitled other than the in-flight safety video, because as Caroline said in her post, watching that 109 times is not anyone's idea of fun!

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