A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

New Captioning Options At the Movies

In Accommodations for Deaf, captions, Closed Captioning, Disability Rights, Hard of hearing culture, Life, Uncategorized on May 26, 2011 at 12:37 am

Over the past couple months I have been hearing rumors that Regal and Cinemark theaters will be offering captions and access to ‘every movie, every time’ nationwide.  Could it be true?  Meanwhile, Captionfish suddenly has strange new abbreviations like USL next to its listings.   This week, the Seattle area is showing 97 CAPTIONED movies at 19 theaters!! ( NO WAY!!)  What’s going on??

Last Saturday night I decided to check it out.  After dinner and drinks I suggested to my husband that we hit a movie.

“Nothing will be captioned at this late hour,” he said.

“Let’s just check.  I heard they’re captioning everything.”

“Are you kidding?  No way.”

There was a theater three blocks away so we swung by to ask.  Imagine our surprise when the ticket chick produced two cool pairs of captioning glasses.  They looked a lot like these 3-D glasses, only they were black and had a small black box attached with a cord that you wear around your neck.

They came with three controlls on the side to adjust font size, distance, and language. LANGUAGE??  Yes.  They’ll be great for people who are learning another language, as well as deaf people whose first language is not English.

As someone who wears graduated trifocals, I was concerned that the glasses might not fit around my frames.  OR maybe the words would be too blurry with my sight issues since my reading field is so narrow.  Not a problem.  Because of the flexibility with font size and distance, I could see the words just fine.  I did have to fiddle with the placement of the glasses on my nose a bit to get it just right, but I could see great.

What I loved most about the glasses was that I could move the words anywhere on the screen.  This meant the words were never in the way of anything I needed to see.    Also, I could move the words under the screen.  Frankly I thought that part was awesome.  I have often wondered why they don’t put the words under the screen with open captioned and subtitled movies.  One of the biggest problems I have had with open captioned movies is when both the words and background are light, they are hard to read.  The words in the glasses were lit up similarly to rear-window type captioning, and they were red.  They never blended in with anything.   So, the words were always  visible and clear and never covered any part of the screen.  Also, because I wasn’t looking through a panel, as you do when using rear-window captioning, I could move my head around freely without losing the captions.  I really liked it.  A LOT!

Best of all, we were able to see a first run movie on a Saturday night!  This theater has been offering open captioned showings on Saturday mornings or at 10pm on week nights, and other inconvenient times for years.   I loved that I could just show up for a first-run movie and it would be captioned, and if that one was sold out, I could choose another, and that one would be captioned too!  Gosh, we almost felt like, (dare I say it?) normal folks.

Now that’s what I call equal access!

The other new type of captioning option under the USL listing is Captiview.  I haven’t tried it, but the picture below is what it looks like.  Seems similar to Rear-window, but maybe improved.   I’ve never been crazy about rear-window captions because of my sight issues and the way you need to sit in one spot after adjusting the arm.  But hey, if it means they will offer captions every time, I could live with this I think.  Word has it that all Regal and Cinemark theaters will be captioning every movie, every time nationwide by the end of 2012.    Whether your local theater installs  rear-window technology, Captiview, the new captioning glasses, or sticks with open captioned movies, this is big news!  See here for more details.  Oh– and pass the popcorn!

  1. wow! how cool! I can’t wait for this to happen in NYC. Thanks for sharing

  2. The captioning glasses sounds cool, and can’t wait for it to make all movies accessible.

    However, the Captiview device gives me concern. Without having tried it, I hope it doesn’t become universally used because of the necessity to refocus from screen to the device to read captions. Such constant refocusing would cause major problems for me.

    In an effort to make movies accessible, something has to give, and having open captions right on the screen is unfortunately what must go. This is the best of all alternaives, however. Perhaps in the future it will be possible to have open captions without necessity for goggles or devices, so keep on trying, inventors!

    • Dianrez,
      You are not the first to express this concern about the Captiview. I haven’t tried it, but I wonder how well it would work with my vision issues. I have had a difficult time with rear-window in the past. This looks even worse. My understanding is these theaters are trialing these different devices to see what works best, so feedback from the deaf and Deaf community would be greatly appreciated I’m sure.

      Unfortunately, many hearing people are distracted by words on the screen. This is not unlike the complain by Deaf who find words on the screen equally distracting when they are signing. I guess the only people who are never bothered by words on a screen are hh and deaf. 😉

  3. Thank, Kim, for sharing your experience with us!! So glad the glasses were a good experience! I’ve not checked our theaters recently, but think they only offer the rear-window captioning, but do believe they are offering it for more showings than when I last checked. Going to a movie in a theater is on my list of things to do when life settles down a bit!! When you’ve not been able to enjoy a movie in a theater for decades you get out of the habit of going, it’s a challenge just to realize you do have that option again.

    • I know just what you mean. It was sort of nostalgic for us in a way since we used to hit the theater on a regular basis when we were young. You get used to popping a DVD in and making your own popcorn when you can’t go to the theater, and we’ve developed new habits to take the place of what we haven’t been able to do. This felt like a bit adventure, especially because of the glasses. It seemed like we were in the theater in disguise with funny glasses. Initially I thought the new Regal policy was being rolled out immediately, but from the Wash-Cap website it appears that their goal is to have all their theaters fully captioned by 2012. I expect those theaters with captioning equipment already in place will become more accessible more quickly. I would love to hear from you when you find out!

  4. Would love a pair of those captioned glasses….The theaters here all have captioning for movies at different times
    In Rochester New York seems most of the movie houses have captioning…
    Sadly in many community’s that is not the norm
    Some places there is nothing a deaf or hard of hearing person can do

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