Captions at the Movies? – Bring Them On!

I haven’t enjoyed going to the movies for a while. I find the background soundtrack (the music or special effects) so loud it is painful, and the dialogue difficult to follow. I had gotten into the habit of waiting for a movie to be released on DVD or Netflix and watching it in the comfort of my own home, with the captions on and the volume set at a comfortable level. BUT I recently discovered captions at the movies! They are not available in all theaters or on all screens at theaters that offer captions, but I hope this becomes a new trend.

My experience was at a Loew’s theater in NYC. I saw the familiar closed captioning logo at the ticket counter and asked about it. I had inquired about it in the past, but the ticket agent never knew what it was. This time, the agent told me that if I went to the information desk upstairs, I could request a special caption reader that could be used at my seat for certain movies. Sounds good! My husband and I went straight to the information desk, and after a few attempts at explaining what we were looking for, someone was familiar with the readers and went to get one for me. They asked me to return it after the show, but did not take an ID or anything. I am guessing that was an oversight.

Well, it worked great! I had to hold it (it was not one of the cupholder ones) but that was fine, and I could position it so that I could see the screen and the captions at the same time. It reminded me of watching movies at home, but with a much bigger screen. I did turn my hearing aids down to combat the overzealous sounds of the special effects and soundtrack.

At the end of the movie, it was very quick to return the caption reader at the information desk and we were on our way. Several theater companies are offering captions currently, whether through a handheld device, a cupholder device or through caption glasses. I encourage everyone who needs help hearing at the movies to give one or more of these methods a whirl. For me, it has been nice to get back to the movies.

Readers, do you take advantage of captioning at the movies?

33 thoughts on “Captions at the Movies? – Bring Them On!

  1. so far I have tried the caption glasses once at the theater. the captions move when you move your head and it took a little maneuvering to get it right, but it was still pretty amazing to be able to actually sit with friends and see a movie together. although I would rather wait for it to come to video or TV and watch with both captioning and good headphones in the comfort of home, I am so glad they are starting to accommodate so that people who cannot hear can be part of something that is a given for everyone else…

  2. I have recently discovered captioning at the movies. I tried the cup holder deal and did not like it! I never could get it to work right! I have gone to several movies at Regal theater and used the glasses caption reader and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! I would not go to a movie if they didn’t have these available!

  3. I’m really surprised you discovered captioned movies so recently. The technology has been around for at least ten years, but theater chains have been slow to pick up on the trend in smaller markets. I had no problem finding captioned movies in Los Angeles Six or seven years ago, but in Fort Collins, where I lived at the time, there would only be one captioned movie, at one theater, and only at a Sunday matinee showing of a weeks-old movie.

    Fast forward to 2013 in my new home of Tucson and the only movies I can’t see with captions at a theater are low budget indies screened by the local art house theater. Which is disappointing, because I love low budget indies most of all, but I’m nonetheless grateful for the progress that’s been made.

  4. I’ve seen a movie with both captions on the screen and with the glasses. Because the glasses exist, they don’t have the captions on the screen anymore. I wondered how the glasses could possibly work, but they do. I’ve come to find that they get heavy and make my ears sore. I’m hoping that they will become lighter and less bulky in time. I am very grateful that they do exist though. Regal theatres are the ones here in my city that do have the captioning glasses.


  6. The Sony glasses have been consistently the best for me. But after about two hours, they are quite uncomfortable. I hope they can find a way to create a lighter set for us. I’ve used the cup holder device a few times with mixed results. At one local theatre it didn’t work, at all, twice. But when its working its pretty good, but you do have to get used to moving your head a bit. Sometimes I find myself just reading the captions without even looking at the screen for several minutes.

    With the glasses, you can put the captions wherever you want, e.g., if its snowing on screen, you can find a dark spot to read them by moving your head around.

    I agree that its wonderful to be able to go with hearing friends to the movies, though we do look a bit dorky and somewhat stigmatic with the glasses on…its worth it, besides the theatre is pretty dark…

  7. […] Captions at the movies? – Bring them on! (Living with Hearing Loss Blog) Several movie theater companies are currently offering captions, whether through a handheld device, a cupholder device, or through caption glasses. The author tried a handheld version at a Loew’s theater in New York City, finding it easy to use once she positioned it to enable her to see the movie and the captions simultaneously. The most difficult part turned out to be obtaining the device, as not everyone working at the theater was familiar with the technology. […]

  8. I am from Croatia, Europe. I am happy to hear about all those possibilities for people with hearing loss in USA. We can learn about it, and I hope it will be available soon in Croatia. Currently, our TV (only one programme) has subtitles during news. I forgot- also one croatian sitcom had subtitles. In the theaters we don`t have any such possibility you mentioned in your blog. I hope, it will be changed, I think it is not so expensive to do. But our policymakers are so slow and need to be forced many times. You have done excellent blog, it is nice it is available all over the world. Sorry for my bad english. Keep on writing!

  9. I have used both versions, and much prefer the glasses. But I will take either one over no captions! I am deaf only on one side, and my “good” ear is extremely sensitive to loud noise. It makes going to the movies with the excessively loud sound effects terribly painful. And trying to hear and understand the dialogue is exhausting and frustrating. Combining the caption readers with my noise-cancelling earphones makes the experience much more pleasant, not just for me, but also for my family, who no longer have to put up with repeated “what did he say?” interruptions the entire movie.

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