Hard of Hearing and Going to the Movies: How do you deal with it?

Posted by arrowshooter @arrowshooter, Dec 7, 2019

I’ll bet folks on here have many different experiences dealing with hearing at the movies at theaters. I’m curious how different folks deal with movies.

I have not gone to many movies because I can’t understand them. I’ve probably gone to about 6 theater movies since 1970 and have tried to listen to movies at home (mostly unsuccessfully). Sound effects overpower a lot of speech, I can’t understand any whispering, and “shouting doesn’t help”. Caption glasses and FM listeners are not very user-friendly for me.

I heard that this theater was showing the Open Caption movie at the request of some other deaf/hard of hearing individual. (It pays to speak up). I noticed several other deaf/hard of hearing folks there too so word must have gotten out about the Open Caption. I learned that even though I thought I could hear birds and crickets with my “new” 3-year old hearing aids I can’t hear them well at all. The captions told of several things that were playing in the soundtrack but I didn’t hear at all. And I learned that I could follow the movie much better than any other I’ve watched.

Now I’m wondering how to find when/where open caption movies play, how to request them, why they are not offered more. I did send a “thank you” to the theater for showing the movie and their consideration for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

I haven't been able to see movies in theaters for about 35 years, due to Meniere's and the action moving back and forth across a big screen. I can't even tolerate a really big home TV if there's action, like a basketball game. It struck me recently, after decades of being HOH before dropping lower on the scale, that I don't like to watch movies on TV (no captions available, thanks to %^#(&*%&$&^ Charter). I believe it's because you can get to know characters in a TV series and anticipate what they may do/say, while the same actor in a movie may be entirely different. We do get one channel with captions, which shows old Law and Order shows three nights a week, so I watch that and do lots and lots of reading.

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I don't go. They crank the volume up to ear damaging levels, and I don't want to lose any more of my hearing.

When they come out on Netflix or Redbox I can watch them at home with captions.

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I wear noise cancelling head phones and use the caption device many theaters now provide. The sound is so loud for most movies, I can still hear the music etc. I get what folks are saying and enjoy my time at the movies!

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But not all movies offer the closed-caption capability, and I don't know how to find out which do unless I actually go to the movie theater, buy my ticket, and inquire. And all closed-captioning devices provided by theaters do not function reliably, but they only turn on (or fail to) as the movie begins. I gave up on seeing movies for those reasons. Wait for them to be shown on TV and watch with closed captions.

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All Regal and AMC theaters offer closed captioning devices. Hope this helps.

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@bobbiefriend

But not all movies offer the closed-caption capability, and I don't know how to find out which do unless I actually go to the movie theater, buy my ticket, and inquire. And all closed-captioning devices provided by theaters do not function reliably, but they only turn on (or fail to) as the movie begins. I gave up on seeing movies for those reasons. Wait for them to be shown on TV and watch with closed captions.

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I agree. The ALDs at theaters are generally not good. Lack of maintenance and dead batteries are common in my limited experience. And if batteries are dead the staff present usually doesn't know where to find fresh batteries.

Even with fresh batteries the audio at most movies has so much sound effects that it makes the speech impossible for me to understand and follow the movie. My preference would be a separate sound track with the speech only delivered by induction loop. I'm sure acoustic sound in the theater would be more than enough sound effects for me even with occlusive hearing aids. That won't happen in my lifetime.

That leaves captioned (open and closed) movies. I still keep hoping that open captions become more accepted by the general public and offered more. If hearing people had to watch movies with the captioning devices generally available (no audio) they'd understand. It is good that ALDs in use now allow a lot of people to enjoy movies, but they don't help many of us. So for those of you who can enjoy movies – good for you. I'll just go do something else for entertainment.

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All theaters that have the digital projectors SHOULD offer captions via the CaptiView or Sony Glasses system. However, I don't think all movies have captions but I may be wrong. For the theaters that still have the old analog projectors, you'll only find an FM or infrared system. There may be some theaters that are still inaccessible but I would hope that people would advocate to get that changed. When I first tried the CaptiView several years ago, the captions only came on when the main show started. This stinks since there is no way to know for certain if the device is going to work until the movie starts. I just saw the new Star Wars movie last week. Most of the previews had captions so I was able to know that the device would work when the main movie started.
Tony in Michigan

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We have one theater in out little podunk town of 9,000 30 miles away. It is a Suick theater and they have CC and ALD, but finding out which movies have captions is a little challenge. You have to call the theater and getting someone to answer the phone is "iffy". I'm nowhere near a movie expert but I've never seen anything on a movie advertisement regarding captioning.

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@arrowshooter

We have one theater in out little podunk town of 9,000 30 miles away. It is a Suick theater and they have CC and ALD, but finding out which movies have captions is a little challenge. You have to call the theater and getting someone to answer the phone is "iffy". I'm nowhere near a movie expert but I've never seen anything on a movie advertisement regarding captioning.

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arrowshooter, I know it's a long shot, but if you can band enough support, the theaters can get open captioned movies so that everyone sees captions without an auxiliary device. In Michigan, there are quite a few d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) groups that have Facebook pages. I sometimes see posts regarding open captioned movies. We try to get support for those movies since the theaters do go out of norm to get these films.
Tony in Michigan

Liked by lizzy102

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@tonyinmi

arrowshooter, I know it's a long shot, but if you can band enough support, the theaters can get open captioned movies so that everyone sees captions without an auxiliary device. In Michigan, there are quite a few d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) groups that have Facebook pages. I sometimes see posts regarding open captioned movies. We try to get support for those movies since the theaters do go out of norm to get these films.
Tony in Michigan

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Not really a long shot Tony. It already happened. That's exactly why I started this thread. In my first post (third paragraph) I told of hearing about an open caption movie to be shown as the requested by a deaf/hard of hearing person. I found out through the deaf community and wanted to support the effort. I hadn't been to a movie in a long time and this one was open captioned. I enjoyed the movie and sent the theater a "thank you" for their consideration. I saw about 6 other deaf/hard of hearing people there that I knew. That was over 10% of the people in this small theater. I thought it was great that SOMEONE listened. We need to do more of this.

Liked by tonyinmi, lizzy102

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I went to see "Rise of Skywalker" last month and it was the first movie I had been to in several years. Really the only reason I went was because I knew it would be visually rich and that would make up for the fact that I could not understand any dialogue. Now, I could have inquired about a caption device but I just did not want to hassle with it, because it was the fist time I've been to that theater and I didn't know what kind of accommodations they would offer. I liked the movie more than I expected and I can wait for the video to land on Netflix or Hulu or whatever and watch it with captions to get the dialogue that I missed.

I've had a long history of disappointments in dealing with listening devices and other tech in movie theaters. I have more or less given up. For a while I went to a lot of foreign-language films because I live in L.A. County and can go to the art house places, but I know a lot of folks do not have that option. With non-English films, I can usually read subtitles. I am thinking perhaps I will try again to start going to movies and using the open caption devices if available but with so much content online nowadays, it's tempting to just stay home and not deal with people who don't know what they are supposed to be doing.

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I understand your "disappointments" in theaters. Unless a movie is captioned I just won't go. AND unless a movie is open captioned I'm not likely to go because of the "disappointments" to which you refer. So movies are just not a part of my life which gives me more time to do things I enjoy. Now if theaters had hearing loops that would be different. The nearest one I know of is 200 miles away.

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I use closed caption

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@bobbiefriend

But not all movies offer the closed-caption capability, and I don't know how to find out which do unless I actually go to the movie theater, buy my ticket, and inquire. And all closed-captioning devices provided by theaters do not function reliably, but they only turn on (or fail to) as the movie begins. I gave up on seeing movies for those reasons. Wait for them to be shown on TV and watch with closed captions.

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I’ve experienced the same thing,bobbiefriend. However, the first time it happened, I marched to the counter and loudly said “This is not working and NOW I’M MISSING THE MOVIE I PAID TO SEE. THIS IS ADA VIOLATION!!!” Then, when the worker handed me another device, I refused to take it and demanded she come to the theatre with me to make sure it worked. She walked back and forth twice and finally got it set up right. They gave me a ticket for another movie. The next time I went to the theatre, I said (again, loudly) “I need a captioning device and I want someone to come to the theatre with me to make sure it works.” That worked well. The next time, I just told the worker that I’d had problems before and he told me that they had the system overhauled because of complaints. Since then, smooth sailing (though getting the thing into the cup and positioned so I can see it is always a challenge). Last time I went to movies, I saw two ladies who were getting their captioning devices and both spoke loudly saying they had previously had problems. I had to laugh.

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I rarely go to the movies, I wait until it is available at home, so this has not been a problem for me, but even watching them on TV can be difficult at times. The closed captioning sometimes skips ahead too fast to read, and sometimes misses a whole block of dialog.
I did recently go to "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" with my daughter who also wears hearing aids. There were no assistive devices despite it being a very new theater, or at least no devices that we were aware of. That particular movie though was pretty much all dialogue with very little background noise. Yes, I did miss some dialogue but overall I was able to understand a lot and follow along well.
JK

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