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Tripod Captioned Films collection

Identifier: RITDSA-0191

Scope and Contents

The Tripod Captioned Films collection contains materials from 1984 through 2004 with the bulk of the materials dated between 1992 and 2002.

Materials include correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, organizational documents, notes, clippings, printed materials, ephemera, and digital media.

The Tripod Collection has been arranged into eight series, one of which have been divided into subseries. This collection is housed in 9 archival document boxes, 15 paige boxes, and two additional archival boxes.

Materials in this collection are related to the management of Tripod Captioned Films, the distribution of films, production of films, and advertising including presence at conferences. Of special note are the letters of appreciation from Cindy Costner, a long-time supporter of the Tripod mission. These can be found in the folder titled “Appreciation Letters” (box 5, folder 9). Also of note is the folder containing materials related to the 60th Academy of Awards of which the film Language Says It All was nominated.


  • Creation: 1984 - 2004
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1992 - 2002

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on materials in this collection, however, some series contain notes regarding conditions governing access that provide more information about original location or storage of some materials.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open to researchers.

Historical Note

Tripod Captioned Films was started in 1993 by Barbara Montan, the mother of a deaf son, and Nancy Linke-Ellis. Tripod Captioned Films was an offshoot of the Tripod school, a co-enrollment school for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing children in conjunction with the Montessori Method. Originally, films were captioned and premiered as a fundraiser for the Tripod school, the first film being The Big Chill in 1983. By 2001, Tripod Captioned Films brought 48 first run feature films to theaters.

Tripod Captioned Films aimed to include the deaf, hard of hearing, elderly, ESL (English as a second language), and adult literacy participants into the movie-going experience. Films were “bicycled” to theaters across the United States and in many cases Tripod Captioned Films partnered with local deaf groups to promote the film and share profits. Open captioned films included more than subtitles including song lyrics, visual icons for sound effects, and a full soundtrack. Films included box office hits Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible, Schindler’s List, and Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Tripod also produced their documentaries, one of which was Language Says It All. Produced in 1987, the film was nominated for best short documentary at the Academy Awards in 1988. The documentary explores the importance of communication for deaf children using sign language as expressed through the views of four families.


Approx. 22.75 Linear Feet




Tripod Captioned Films was a non-profit community outreach program of the Tripod school in Burbank, CA that provided open-captioned first-run feature films to hard of hearing and deaf consumers throughout the United States in the 1990s and 2000s.


Series I: Administration, 1992-2004

Series II: Film Distribution, 1991-2003

Series III: Produced Films, 1984-1999

Series IV: Finances, 1984-2004

Series V: Advertising/Press, 1993-2001

Series VI: Conferences/Conventions, 1996-2002

Series VII: Realia, c. 1999

Series VIII: References, 1984-2000

Physical Location

RIT Archives, C. S. North, range 8 (shelves 346, 347, 349-353)

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Tripod Captioned Films collection

Custodial History

The Tripod Captioned Films collection was donated to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011. The papers were accessioned under ID 2011:088 and were received from Megan Williams in 21 boxes (along with materials related to the Tripod collection).

Related Materials

More information about Tripod and digital images of items relating to this collection can be found at

Terms to Note

“Bicycling” – The process of shipping one open-captioned print around the country to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

LSIA/BTN – Language Says It All/Back to Normal (working title) was a short documentary produced in 1987 about communication with deaf children that was nominated for an Academy Award. It was followed by a sequel, Once Upon a Time.

TCF – Tripod Captioned Films

TRIPOD – Toward Rehabilitation Involvement by Parents of the Deaf, the name of which originated in 1969. Tripod is a school that co-enrolled hearing, deaf, and hard of hearing students.

Finding Aid for the Tripod Captioned Films Collection, 1984-2004
Nicole Pease
October 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA