Visually impaired in Malaysia to enjoy movies too

Visually impaired in Malaysia to enjoy movies too
Joint effort: Amirul Feisal (left) and Ganesan launching the new Maybank-MAB Cinema for the visually impaired at the MAB complex in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR - Now, the visually impaired can "see" and enjoy movies nearly as much as others at cineplexes.

The Maybank-MAB Cinema, a mini theatre at the Malaysian Association for the Blind complex in Brickfields, is offering audio described movie screenings once a month.

It uses a projector screen and sound system, donated by Maybank Global.

MAB CEO Datuk Ganesan Supayah said currently, most of the audio described movies were English titles purchased from Amazon.com.

Group head for Maybank Global Banking Amirul Feisal, explaining the difference between an audio, described and a conventional movie, said: "Audio described movies include narration to describe and guide visually impaired viewers throughout the movie."

Despite being introduced in the 1980s and rising in popularity in many countries, it remained uncommon in Malaysia.

It was a cinematic experience in Australia where special headsets were supplied to the visually impaired that prompted MAB Braille Publication & Library Standing Committee chairman Thavasothy Mailvaganam Pillai to suggest having one in Malaysia, too.

"Maybank volunteers are doing a lot of work with us," Thavasothy said. "They were keen to sponsor more projects. So, when we talked about this, they were excited."

The volunteers then raised over RM30,000 (S$11,154)through a mini carnival. There was also contributions from the bank.

"We are meeting Finas (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) next week. We hope to raise the idea of introducing audio description tracks into local film productions too," said Thavasothy.

Yesterday's Maybank-MAB Cinema launch debuted with a screening of Ender's Game.

The MAB council has yet to set a date for future screenings, which will be open to the public.

Thavasothy said they were looking at the first Saturday of every month and might charge a nominal fee to fund the purchase of the DVDs.

He said the public could stay updated through automated announcements on the Tele MAB line (03) 227-226-8703.

Barnabas Lee, 63, who has moderate visual impairment, said currently most of the titles available were in English, although many Chinese language DVDs also had the feature.

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