A simple pleasure like watching a movie can become a challenge if you are deaf or hard of hearing. Thankfully, many advances in technology make it easier to enjoy a movie. In addition to new technologies for deaf people, there are also many movies about deaf people for you to experience!
Let’s Go To the Movies!
One of the most famous movies about a deaf person is The Miracle Worker (1962), starring Patty Duke as Helen Keller. The movie is based on a play by the same name, and is considered one of the greatest films of all time—it was nominated for five Academy Awards, and won two of them. The Miracle Worker was remade twice, once in 1979 and once in 2000. Why not check all three versions out?
Another film that features a deaf character is Mr. Holland’s Opus, which was released in 1995 and stars Richard Dreyfuss as the title character. Mr. Holland is a high school music teacher who struggles to connect to his deaf son, as his son cannot hear the music he cares for so passionately. There Will Be Blood, nominated for eight Academy Awards in 2008 and winning two, also features a deaf son and has been praised for its accuracy in depicting early American Sign Language.
Marlee Matlin is arguably the most successful and well-known deaf actor in show business, and starred in Children of a Lesser God (1986). The film centers around two employees at a school for the deaf and their relationship, which is made more turbulent by their communication barrier. Matlin won an Academy Award for this role, becoming the first and only deaf performer to win.
Movies for Deaf People—Ways to Watch
If you are hard of hearing or profoundly deaf, watching movies will naturally pose a bit of a challenge. If you wear hearing aids, you may be able to employ the use of a telecoil if your local theater is equipped, which will send the sound of the movie directly into your hearing aids. Some movie theaters also have sound amplifiers that are placed directly in the ear.
Many theaters offer closed captioning for movies—all AMC theaters around the country, for instance, have a closed captioning device that easily clips onto your cupholder and provides captions for the movie. A few years ago, Regal Cinemas rolled out a new-age technology for their deaf customers: closed-captioning glasses. The glasses work almost like 3D glasses, in that they project captions in front of the wearer that appear to float about 10 feet away, for easy and unobtrusive captions. These glasses are a revolution in closed captioning, as they allow deaf viewers to simultaneously watch the movie and read the captions, rather than switching between the screen and a device that’s near their seat. The chief administrative officer for Regal Cinemas was inspired to create the glasses after watching his own deaf son struggle through watching movies.
In addition to going out to the theater, there are also ways deaf people can watch movies on their own! Millions of people are subscribed to Netflix, which has a closed captioning option for all of its movies and TV shows. Amazon Instant Video and Hulu, two other popular streaming services, also have the option to turn on closed captions for movies and shows.
By: Elena McPhillips