Assistive Hearing Devices at the Movie Theater
Many people with hearing loss aren’t aware help is available when they go to the movie theater.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to understand dialogue during a movie, the following devices should help. They’ve certainly allowed me to enjoy going to the cinema again.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ACT)
A landmark decision was made in 2016 by the Department of Justice after they published a final rule on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This applied to accommodating disabled patrons in movie theaters with respect to Closed Captioning (CC) for the hard of hearing and Audio Description for the visually impaired.
Following the decision, if movie theaters do not have access to closed captioning or audio description services then they will be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Closed Captioning at the Movies
Most movie theater chains (AMC, Cinemark, Regal, etc.) in the U.S. should now offer assistive services for the hearing impaired. The Closed Captioning device available at most cinemas is called CaptiView.
Steps to Receive and Setup Devices
- When buying your movie ticket in person, ask customer service for the “closed captioning” device.
- The customer service agent will retrieve the device, set up the appropriate settings and give instructions for use.
- The device is linked to each theater’s closed captioning channel.
- Insert the end of the device into the cup holder.
- Move the head of the device into your field of view (bottom of movie screen).
If the device is not set up before hand, these instructions may help:
The letters A, C, and L represent the three buttons that are on the bottom of the CaptiView device.
- A stands for Auditorium and is the first button from the left.
- C stands for Connect and is the second or middle button.
- L stands for Language, a feature that will be included in a future release, and is the third or last button from the left.
- Press the A button repeatedly until the desired auditorium number appears.
- The CaptiView display must be set to the same auditorium number as the CaptiView transmitter in order to establish a connection.
- Press the C button to connect to the Auditorium.
- A message saying, “Connecting to Auditorium #” will appear.
Once the device is set up, adjust the view into your line of vision, placed at the bottom of the movie screen.
The text is shielded from view of the people beside you as well as above so as not to be distracting.
Depending on your level of hearing loss, the captions can be used for full commentary or to fill in the blanks if any dialogue is unclear.
As you can see from the image provided it works quite handily.
Assistive Listening & Audio Description
Depending on your hearing needs, as a compliment or replacement to the closed captioning, assistive listening can offer an enhanced moviegoing experience.
Depending on whether you wear hearing aids the assistive listening device can be used in two ways:
- Without hearing aids: Wearing headphones with amplified sound
- With hearing aids: Bluetooth connection to your hearing aids through the Fidelio device
Since the first option is self explanatory, I’ll go into the Bluetooth connection in more detail.
Bluetooth Connection at Cinema
Having the audio sent as a direct connection to your hearing aids makes for a much clearer experience. Word recognition improves allowing for greater understanding of the movie’s dialogue.
What I find works well for me is connecting an auxiliary cord to the Fedelio audio jack as seen above. I then connect the other side of the auxiliary cord to the line-in in my Smart Connect streamer shown below.
The (Smart Connect)/(easyTek) streamer is available for Rexton, Siemens and Signia branded hearing aids. Other brands have similar streamers.
If you have a different brand of hearing aids, check out the following multi-purpose streamers that may be compatible.