Navigating some of the finer things in life can sometimes present a little difficulty for the hearing impaired. Thankfully, hearing technology has caught up: an exciting array of captioning services are available so that hearing-impaired individuals can better enjoy daily life, events, and venues.

One of the biggest struggles that accompanies hearing loss can be listening on the telephone. Thanks to companies like CapTel and Harris Communications, the telephone does not need to be feared! They offer landline phones that look like a regular phone with a bright display window. These phones need a standard home phone connection and a high-speed Internet connection to function properly. With these phones, users can conveniently listen to conversations and read them in real time thanks to a captioning service that transcribes the spoken word into written word.

Popular websites YouTube and Netflix also offer subtitles on their videos and movies. To activate the YouTube captions, look for the CC option in the settings tab of the video. This is a relatively new service to be offered on YouTube so not all videos have captions and some captions may be incorrect, but time will certainly improve the feature. As for Netflix, most of the offered movies and shows are subtitled and can also all be found on Netflix’s main page.

Some movie theaters also offer captioning services as well.  Simply ask the ticket booth if they have the caption equipment available for the show, which can be a great help for hearing-impaired individuals. They can usually be spotted with the acronym RWC (Rear Window Captioning) by the movie name. The equipment is usually a glass screen that can be attached to the user’s seat. Not all movies theaters have this feature available, but the website CaptionFish allows you to search for one in your area.

Broadway shows have also begun to offer captioning services to the deaf and hearing-impaired. A LED screen is set up near the stage and displays subtitles for the whole audience to refer to. Not many shows currently offer it but the Theater Development Fund accessibility programs hopes to expand their options in the future. In the meantime, to find which Broadway shows have this feature, search for available options on TDF’s website.

It is clear to see that initiatives are being taken across the board to make life more accessible for those with hearing loss. Most recently, the supermarket chain, Fairway Market announced in August of this year that that they have installed its first ever hearing loop (also the first in a grocery store in New York City) at the deli counter of their flagship store on Broadway! Rest assured that there are plenty of more exciting advances to come.

by Esther Shasho