Accidentally Adaptive: Streaming Movies

In my Accidentally Adaptive series, I share products or services that aren’t specifically designed to be adaptive but have a particular use for me as a disabled woman.

This year, I decided – somewhat on a whim – that I wanted to watch all of the best picture nominees for this year’s Oscars. I had seen a few of them already, but spent this past weekend having a cozy movie marathon where I streamed more of them, one after the other. And it hit me that this was only possible because all of the movies were available to watch on streaming, which is so much more accessible for me than going to the movie theater. So I thought I’d talk about how movies being available on streaming is actually Accidentally Adaptive!

Growing up, I loved going to the movie theater. I’d see the new Disney releases with my family, or a new release every year around Christmas. And when I was in middle school and high school, I spent so many Friday and Saturday nights doing the whole “mall and the movies” things with my friends. I even went to a midnight release of one of the Twilight movies in college!

But as I got a little older, getting to the movies got more and more challenging. Honestly, getting anywhere on time gets trickier and trickier… not because I don’t care about being places on time, but because getting ready is just harder now! Things take more time because they’re more physically taxing for me, so I have to build in extra time to my schedule, but sometimes things just happen and my perfectly planned schedule gets thrown out of whack. And while the 10-15 minutes of previews before the movie starts helps to cushion that, I learned the hard way that at some theaters, the listed time means the time the actual movie starts, not the previews.

I also have to make sure someone is either free to go to the movies with me (and drive me!), or that one of my parents is free to drop me off and pick me up – there’s no real option for me to just decide, impulsively, to go see a movie. My parents are really great about driving me places, but they have their own things to do, too! And once I get to the theater, I have to hope that one of the very limited number of wheelchair accessible seats are available. If I’m going with friends, I have to hope that people aren’t in the “companion” seats next to the accessible seats, or hope that they’re willing to move if I ask. Because it’s no fun going to the movies with friends and not sitting with them – plus, then I have no one to help me reach my popcorn and movie snacks!

With streaming, though, all of these issues become moot immediately. I don’t have to worry about the time the movie starts, and stressing about not being too late, because I can hit play whenever I want. I also don’t have to worry about planning out my bathroom stop beforehand, knowing I can’t easily use a public bathroom, which I didn’t even mention earlier. If I need to pause the movie to use the bathroom, or eat, or do anything, it’s no problem. The only transportation involved is me, going from my bedroom to my living room. It lets me really enjoy movies the way they’re supposed to be enjoyed, because I can focus on the movie itself, and not the one million logistical things involved in just getting me to the movie theater.

And while I don’t want to speak for all disabilities (especially ones that aren’t mine!), I know that captioning at the movies is a huge issue. Screenings with open captions (movies with the captions on the screen for everyone to read) are rare, are the caption devices for “regular” screenings are often not working, or employees don’t know where they are / how to use them. But at home, captions are very easy to turn on – I use them with everything I watch!

I’m not saying that I want movie theaters to go away. Going to see a movie in the theater is an event – it’s a different experience from watching a movie at home. But I hope we continue to see more and more movies available to rent at home while they’re still being shown in theaters. Because it’s really nice to feel included, even with something so seemingly trivial as watching movies that have been nominated for awards. I feel different so often – I will take each and every opportunity that makes me feel like I’m part of something!

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