Movie theatres in Metro Vancouver are ignoring the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing, according to one Vancouver advocate.

Lisa Anderson-Kellet, who is deaf, relies on closed captioning to enjoy movies – but runs into issues regularly at the cinema. She claims to have received about 10 free movie passes due to equipment malfunctions at various theatres in Langley, Burnaby and Coquitlam in a single year.

"I am a human being. I can do anything but just that one thing: hear," Anderson-Kellet said. "I deserve to have access to movies as a form of pleasure and entertainment and not have to worry about malfunctions every time I go."

"I go across town to watch a movie, and then have it malfunction and am sent home. It's a waste of a trip, a waste my time and it's unfair."

Currently, many movie theatres that accomodate people who are deaf or hard of hearing use technology called Rear Window Captioning, a Plexiglas device that can fit into the viewer's cup holder. Descriptive words are then reflected from a display board at the back of the theater.

But even finding a theatre that is closed captioning-enabled can be a hassle. Cineplex, the largest movie theatre operator in Canada, only lists three theatres in Metro Vancouver that have resources for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. And the theatres that do generally only have one captioned movie available, Anderson-Kellet said.

"Honestly, I feel my access is a low priority to the management at the theatres when I come and find so many issues," she said.

According to Caitlin Barker Gore, who works with the Greater Vancouver Association for the Deaf, many people have decided to avoid the hassle and stick with watching movies at home.

"Because it's not really offered I have heard of people in the community who don't really go anymore," said Gore. "There is lots of oppression. People don't think, ‘Oh, they can't hear, we have to think of a way to fix it,' they just don't think about it."

Cineplex is the largest movie theatre operator in Canada and owns, leases or has joint-venture interest in 130 theatres in the country. Vice president of communications Pat Marshall said it's the movie studios who control which films are captioned.

"Even if Cineplex has the captioning equipment installed in our theatres, if the studio doesn't deliver their movie to us captioned, there is nothing further we can do," Marshall said in an email statement.

"The studios are the copyright owner of the films and only they can alter their films which include captioning."

Marshall adds that Cineplex is planning on upgrading their theatres to use digital projectors, which will enable them to add closed captioning to every auditorium by 2012. Currently, only 30 per cent have these upgrades.