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by Dr. Phoebe Clouser

Everyone enjoys going to the theater, sitting back to relax and enjoy a good film.  However, if you have a hearing problem, you could miss a very important part of the dialogue and spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out what happened.  There’s no pause button in a theater and you cannot interrupt those around you to ask for the missing details. So now what?

The good news is that the movie theaters near you often have assistive listening devices available to their movie-watchers.  Assistive listening devices (ALDs) can improve your hearing and understanding during the film.  Theaters offer devices to enhance and amplify audio, provide closed captioning, or provide narration of the action on screen.  Not all theaters have all three, but most have at least one option.  Not all showtimes have assistive listening devices available either.  Look for showtimes with audio description or closed captioning labels, and ask a movie theater employee for assistance.

The most common device available in local theaters are assistive listening headphones.  You can request a set of headphones and a theater employee will help you get connected to the movie playing in your specific auditorium.  The headphones will provide a direct input of all the audio.  You will be able to adjust the volume setting.  The headphones are the most common because they are adaptable to any auditorium type venue.

Closed Captioning may be available.  The captions are presented on a small device that attaches to your cup holder.  There’s a flexible arm attached to the device, so you can set it up at an angle that is easy to see.  Once your movie begins, the device will present all the dialogue in text on your personal screen.

The third type of ALDs is the least common.  It is the audio description & assistive listening option.  Instead of the direct audio input or caption, this device provides a narration of the action going on in the film.  It is a spoken description of what is happening on the screen.  This device can be set up with your own personal headphones or with ones provided and the volume is adjustable.

For smart phones users, download the Gala Pro app.  This application provides a universal cultural experience by delivering automated multilingual subtitles, closed captioning, dubbing, audio description and amplification to the user’s own mobile device.  After you download the app then choose from their list of participating theaters. You can search by city or current location. Once you choose your preferred theater, you will be able to see which shows and services are offered.  This application goes beyond just the movie theater and is often available for live performances.

 

Have fun and enjoy your next movie.

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