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Theaters & Hearing Loss

Published – July, 2014

Dear ADA,

        You have previously provided information about assistance at a theater for someone with vision loss.  I don’t have trouble with my vision but I have lost some hearing.  Usually I can function just fine with my hearing aid, but when I go to the theater or to the movies I hear so much background noise that it isn’t fun for me.  Sometimes the theater has sign language interpreters but I don’t know sign language.  I enjoy using the captioning on my TV, but is there equipment or a service for me like there is for someone with vision loss?

Signed…Silence is not golden

 

Dear Silence,

        This is an excellent question.  You will be happy to know that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires services for people with hearing loss.  The law protects people who have “a significant limitation to one or more major life activities”.  Being able to hear is definitely a major life activity, so places need to make sure they provide “effective communication” for you.  At most live theaters and movie theaters there are “assisted listing devices” available; sometimes abbreviated “ALDs”.  You might see a sign at the box office stating their availability.  These locations have systems that are tied in with the PA system and send the signal directly to headphones that you wear over your ears.  Therefore you will hear no background noise.  Also they have volume control so you can adjust as you need to when the show gets loud or the dialogue is whispered.  Now there are several movie theaters that actually provide captioning during a performance.  It is “closed captioning”, which means the words are not printed on the screen for everyone to see but they are shown on a device that the theater provides for you to use.  I know these are used at many AMC theaters and Regal Cinema theaters.  To find a theater near you that uses this equipment, go to www.regmovies.com/Theaters/Captioning-and-Descriptive-Video or www.amctheaters.com/movie-theatres.  If you do not have internet, call our office and we can help you locate a theater.  If you’re in Charlotte you’ll be pleased to know that all the Broadway Light Series performances have open captioning (which means the words scroll across a device that sits beside the stage where everyone can see them).   This is provided during the Saturday matinee of each show’s run.

        If you want information about that, or anything related to the ADA, please contact us at 704-537-0550 or email us at askada@disability-rights.org.

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