With massive blockbusters like Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Inside Out hitting theaters this summer, millions of people are escaping the heat and turning to movie theaters. Unfortunately for those with hearing loss, seeing movies on the silver screen is not always as enjoyable of an experience. However in this high-tech world, there are several options so everyone can be kept up to date on popular movies.
Ear Piece Assistance
For those who can get by without hearing aids, many theaters provide sound amplifiers that are placed within the ear. Though it may be strange to reuse the earbuds of the last movie-goer, this is the most effective route to hearing the movie. For those who already wear hearing aids and are looking for additional amplification, over the ear headphones are also an option. If the hearing aid has a telecoil, there’s a third option where the user can also wear an infrared receiver around their neck which then sends a clearer sound directly to the hearing aid. This is the best option simply because it requires no additional ear piece but is still located close to the ear for a great broadcast of sound.
Different theaters have unique technologies to aid movie-goers. All AMC theaters have a closed captioning device, helpful for those with hearing aids, that clips right onto the cup holder and utilizes CaptiView to display all dialogue. The adjustable arm allows the user to tilt the device so they don’t have to crane their neck to see both screens. Regal Cinemas seems to be a little more ahead of the game though in terms of closed captioning devices. They partnered with Sony Entertainment to produce Access Glasses which project captions up to 10 feet in front of the user as well as increase audio volumes. The glasses are also useful for the blind, as they describe the actions of movies as they unfold. Regal Cinemas employees set up the preferences on the glasses to make them as user friendly as possible. When someone first puts the glasses on, they can choose the distance of the display in addition to its brightness. The glasses are large, so they can be worn on top of traditional eyeglasses, and if they are used in a 3D movie, an additional lens can be added so no one has to miss out!
Theater Accessibility Programs
In 1979, the Theater Development Fund began the Theater Accessibility Program so that everyone, including those with hearing aids, could enjoy the theater. Members must have proof of eligibility from their doctor, but once they join, they have access to dozens of New York plays, dances, and musicals. At these performances, captions are displayed to the right of the orchestra to enable the viewer to keep up with the dialogue. Some downsides are that there are fewer captioned performances, fewer seats, and jumping between the stage and the screen can be tiring for the viewer’s eyes. However, the upside is that tickets are often discounted, members can buy tickets for their companions as well, and most importantly, those who are hard of hearing can enjoy the show!
Don’t be afraid to get out to the theater this summer – there are options for everyone!
By: Diana Michel