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.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss Support Group.

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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@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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I go to the movies about once a month… and I always ask for the hard of hearing devices.. with my old hearing aids the Movie device..(ear muff type with volume control) were always better (more fidelity)… but now with my new Starkey hearing aids provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) they are better or at least equal to the theater system… I sit toward the front and enjoy the show… hardly missing anything… The young folks who seem to be running things in the theater are not generally trained very well… the maintenance of the devices by the theater "help" is really a problem… I even use the hard of hearing devices offered by the symphony when I go to live performances… Closed captioning on my TV is always on… it helps a lot as some enunciation in British mysteries and such is not always clear enough for my mental processing to wade through.. Ken

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@ken82

I go to the movies about once a month… and I always ask for the hard of hearing devices.. with my old hearing aids the Movie device..(ear muff type with volume control) were always better (more fidelity)… but now with my new Starkey hearing aids provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) they are better or at least equal to the theater system… I sit toward the front and enjoy the show… hardly missing anything… The young folks who seem to be running things in the theater are not generally trained very well… the maintenance of the devices by the theater "help" is really a problem… I even use the hard of hearing devices offered by the symphony when I go to live performances… Closed captioning on my TV is always on… it helps a lot as some enunciation in British mysteries and such is not always clear enough for my mental processing to wade through.. Ken

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@ken82 I always have CC on. Without it I would miss so much. Unfortunately, some things are not well captioned and leave a person sort of hanging.
JK

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I have a profound hearing loss and was thrilled when I learned of present day technology that offered captioning in movies to the HOH. But, as has been noted here, these systems often do not work. Just recently I went to see the award winning Parasite that has captioning because it is a foreign film. I don't understand why captioning at the bottom of the screen isn't available in all theaters. It seems that with the Americans with Disabilities law that it should be. Can anyone tell me why this law hasn't been used to require captioning in theaters?

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When films are captioned- every theatre in the US supposed to have captions devices available . Not all films are captions- that’s the weird part.

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@littlegin

I have a profound hearing loss and was thrilled when I learned of present day technology that offered captioning in movies to the HOH. But, as has been noted here, these systems often do not work. Just recently I went to see the award winning Parasite that has captioning because it is a foreign film. I don't understand why captioning at the bottom of the screen isn't available in all theaters. It seems that with the Americans with Disabilities law that it should be. Can anyone tell me why this law hasn't been used to require captioning in theaters?

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@littlegin That's a great question. We don't go to the movies often, we tend to wait until it's on TV, but it would be more enticing if the movie was captioned.
@bookysue That is weird that some are captioned and some not. When we watch movies on TV they all seem to be.
JK

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