With the Oscars coming up, everyone seems to have movies on their mind. Which makes us ask...What is your favorite movie to watch with your THC hearing aids? Email us your name and favorite movie to be entered in a raffle to win a pair of movie tickets! Email Rachel at email@example.com!
Movies are often best seen on the big screen, but for people with hearing loss the sounds of the movie theater can be difficult to handle.
Luckily, modern technology is making it easier for people with hearing loss to enjoy the cinema. Here are some tips on how to enjoy your next movie:
- Choose the best seat: Get to the movies early to find the best seat for your hearing. Movie theaters are usually designed with the best sound at the center of the theater.
- Avoid noisy snacks: Plastic packaging can cause annoying background noise in a theater. Consider putting your candy in a cup or buying snacks with cardboard packaging.
- Ask for an ALD: Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) are available in many theaters. These devices, usually worn as headphones, allow you to choose the appropriate volume for your level of hearing loss. Reserve these devices in advance with your local theater.
- Use captions: Movie theaters are increasingly holding special captioned viewings for people with hearing loss. Two US-based chains also offer special captioning glasses at all movies. Read on for more information!
There is a special attraction for deaf people in theaters nationwide. Regal Cinemas has distributed closed-captioning glasses to screens across the country.
Sony Entertainment Access Glasses are sort of like 3-D glasses, but for captioning. The captions are projected onto the glasses and appear to float about 10 feet in front of the user. They also come with audio tracks that describe the action on the screen for blind people, or they can boost the audio levels of the movie for those who are hard of hearing.
This is a big moment for the deaf, many of whom haven't been to the movies in a long time. Captioned screenings are few and far between, and current personal captioning devices that fit inside a cup holder with a screen attached are bulky, display the text out of their line of vision to the screen, and distract the other patrons.
Randy Smith Jr., the chief administrative officer for Regal Cinemas, says he has worked for more than a decade to find a solution to this problem. He said that it has been his goal since 1998 "to develop a technology that would allow accessibility to the deaf and blind for every show time, for every feature."
Luckily, he had his own "personal guinea pig" at home, he says, in the form of his deaf son, Ryan. Smith said that as the tech companies would send him new prototypes, he and Ryan would test it out at the movies together, with Ryan giving him feedback along the way.
"We'd do that until we got to a point that we felt it was comfortable enough," Smith says.
Smith says he couldn't put into words what it felt like to finally be at this point, but after announcing the new device, he received a letter from a parent. Smith said that letter described the feeling perfectly:
"I've attempted to enjoy a movie with my son so many times, but to no avail. After watching a movie I would try to discuss it with him. The comments he would make would in no way relate to the plot of the movie and at one point he finally confessed that as he watched the screen, he simply made up the story in his head. He didn't really know what was going on. The fact that I can take my son to a movie when he visits is literally bringing tears to my eyes. It would seem silly to most people but I would imagine you understand what it feels like."
Smith says he can't express it any better than that.