SM’s special movie screening for the blind and deaf

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To provide greater accessibility of movies to PWDs in the Philippines, SM Cares relaunched their “Special Movie Screening for the Deaf and Blind” initiative as a way to advocate for the rights and welfare of PWDs. Photo by JACK ALINDAHAO

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Pulsating sound effects, seamless visual transitions, and 3D films that add an illusion of depth have made watching movies more engaging than ever. But these features are not necessarily enjoyed by the entirety of audiences. Persons with disabilities (PWDs), for instance, cannot readily appreciate these innovations.

To provide greater accessibility of movies to PWDs in the Philippines, SM Cares relaunched their “Special Movie Screening for the Deaf and Blind” initiative as a way to advocate for the rights and welfare of PWDs.

“In SM Cares, [we] promote the inclusion or integration of persons with disabilities in our society, and the best way is to make them feel that they really are welcome in our malls,” said Engr. Bien Mateo, program director of SM Cares Program on Persons with Disabilities.

The relaunch on Thursday, Sept. 28, gathered deaf and blind students from Special Education (SPED) schools in Metro Manila to watch the 2017 remake of Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast.” In order to assist the visually impaired, the movie had audio description for the blind, in which a narrator described the development of the story in between screen dialogues. Closed captions were also included so that those with hearing impediments can read the words shown on the screen.

IMG_8957.jpg “In SM Cares, [we] promote the inclusion or integration of persons with disabilities in our society, and the best way is to make them feel that they really are welcome in our malls,” said Engr. Bien Mateo (pictured above), program director of SM Cares Program on Persons with Disabilities. Photo by JACK ALINDAHAO

IMG_8884.jpg The special screening gathered deaf and blind students from Special Education (SPED) schools in Metro Manila to watch the 2017 remake of Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast.” Photo by JACK ALINDAHAO

’Yung project na ito ay isa sa mga ma-fe-feel ng mga PWD na they are the same with the regular kids because they are given the same opportunity,” said Marybeth Fajilagmago, a SPED teacher from the Philippine School for the Deaf. “Feeling kasi ng mga kids, kapag deaf and blind, they do not belong. Kung baga parang hindi na-ibibigay ng tama ‘yung equal opportunity na dapat matanggap ng PWD [that is] the same with the regular kids.”

The initiative is in partnership with SM Cinema, MTRCB, CALL Foundation, and Deaf Blind Support Philippines (DBSP). The president of DBSP, Edgardo Garcia, said that this partnership with various organizations is vital in making this screening a reality.

“You need several parties to promote audio-descriptive movies, [since] we also need the support of producers to produce films and T.V. programs with these features. We need theaters as well to retrofit their cinemas to be able to use this kind of movies,” he said.

IMG_8949.jpg “’Yung project na ito ay isa sa mga ma-fe-feel ng mga PWD na they are the same with the regular kids because they are given the same opportunity,” said Marybeth Fajilagmago, a SPED teacher from the Philippine School for the Deaf. Photo by JACK ALINDAHAO

IMG_8869.jpg Edgardo Garcia (pictured above), president of Deaf Blind Support Philippines (DBSP), said that the promotion of audio-descriptive movies need the support of several parties, as well as the support of film and T.V. producers. Photo by JACK ALINDAHAO

The project was first launched in 2014 as a way for SM to promote inclusion rather than segregation, a thrust that the company values. But this year’s relaunch also aims to encourage the local film industry to consider the needs of the deaf and blind when producing movies.

“We would like to relaunch this because we'd like to invite those who are into filmmaking, so they can understand that this is a program that they can integrate in their careers because the thing is, now, we still have to import movies that have this kind of setup from abroad,” Mateo said.

Garcia also added that there is indeed a market for these kinds of movies, and that they are also advocating for the passage of a legislation that requires these features in films.

“In other countries kasi, there are laws that require these features and in fact in the Philippines, we recently passed the closed-captioning law sponsored by Senator Grace Poe, but this is for T.V. programs only. We're hoping that that be expanded to cover films and that it includes audio description for the blind [as well],” Garcia said.

IMG_8936.jpg In coordination with different SPED schools nationwide, SM has agreed to use at least one of their cinemas in all SM Supermalls to show audio-described movies every month. Photo by JACK ALINDAHAO

He also said that it’s not only PWDs that benefit in these kinds of features. “You'll notice it's not only the PWDs who enjoy [these features], even senior citizens [and] regular students who are helped by the captioning to improve their language facilities.“

In coordination with different SPED schools nationwide, SM has agreed to use at least one of their cinemas in all SM Supermalls to show audio-described movies every month.

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SM Cares is the CSR arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Its advocacies include Programs on Persons with Disabilities, Children and Youth, Women and Breastfeeding Mothers, Environment Sustainability, Senior Citizens, Social Entrepreneurship and Overseas Filipino Workers (SM Global Pinoy). 

As a responsible integrated property developer, SM ensures that its CSR programs serve as a catalyst for positive change for the community that it serves. To know more about SM Cares, please visit the SM Cares website, SM Cares Facebook page, or e-mail smcares@smprime.com.