Sometimes having hearing loss while trying to watch a movie in theaters or at a drive-thru can be challenging. Will you be able to hear and follow along with the movie? Will it be worth your time and money?
Luckily for you, most movie theaters in the U.S. are required to provide closed captioning and audio descriptions. These laws were passed in 2018 through the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This makes it easier for anyone with hearing loss to enjoy the movies.
Be Sure to Wear Your Hearing Aids
Most hearing aid users won’t need additional help.
Those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss are still able to hear well in movie theaters when donning their hearing aids. Speech sounds tend to be clearer in movie theaters than watching TV or movies from home. This is mainly due to the volume level, sound system quality, and placement of the speakers.
If you are concerned that the film will be played too loudly for you, slightly adjust the volume on your hearing aids to an appropriate level. Today’s hearing aids can be programmed to suppress loud noises so that your hearing health remains protected.
Accessibility services at local theaters should be researched if you have severe hearing loss or are deaf. Get there early so that you can request accommodations and have time to set up the equipment. If things did not go as planned, you can ask for a refund.
Here are some possible options that may be offered:
Opened captioning - text will appear onscreen during the movie so that everyone in the audience can see it.
Closed captioning - these captions are private and transmitted through a personal device.
It’s rare to see open captions for a general audience. Some theaters have the option of “open caption” viewings for those who need/prefer to watch a movie with subtitles/captions, or if there’s a large group that requested a special screening. There are also captions for foreign films.
With closed captions, it is required that you ask for a device that displays the captions at your seat. The device, technology, and availability will be different for each movie theater chain, so you’ll want to do some research before heading to the theater. If necessary, call or email the company.
Accessibility Options from 4 Major Theater Chains
Regal had a plethora of information. They feature an accessibility services page, along with a list of every theater in each state and the accessibility options that are available in each local theater.
Regal offers open captions through Sony Access eyeglasses. It allows audiences to see captions in their direct line of sight. Users can wear these over their regular eyeglasses.
Prior to your visit, it is recommended that you contact your local theater to make sure that you will be accommodated as necessary. The movie descriptions should read “accessibility devices available.”
Last year, AMC announced they would be adding more showings that featured open captions. This is significant because AMC is the largest movie chain in the world.
Other accessibility options from AMC include:
The accessibility page for Landmark lists which theaters have assistive listening technology and what they use. It’s different for each theater, but typically includes:
This large chain provides assistive technology that is similar to Landmark.
If your local theater does not provide the latest captioning technology, they may have assistive listening devices (ALD) like telecoils (which require your hearing aids to be paired with them), assistive listening systems (ALS) which are system-wide technology used in public spaces like a theater, airport, or lecture hall.
Three types of ALS recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) include:
Every ALS must be an option for hearing aid users' access, whether they have telecoils or not.
It’s easy to connect to a hearing loop if your hearing aids feature telecoils. Most people prefer using hearing loops out of the three types of ALS.
If you are having problems hearing in theaters and need help with your hearing aids, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a consultation.