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Going to the Movie Theater with a Hearing Loss

Updated on March 21, 2022
Carl Lee profile image

Kari Lane is a doctoral-level registered nurse. Her expertise is in geriatrics. She has a familial, hereditary, sensorineural hearing loss.

Closed Captioning Devices at the Movies

@CarlLee using captioning
@CarlLee using captioning | Source

Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning is a tremendous advantage for a hard of hearing or deaf individual. It is a requirement for theaters by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but helps so very much that I cannot understate how important it is.

I can no longer attend movies unless I get a closed captioned device. I read lips and have a Pure Tone Threshold of 55, but my word recognition scores are very poor. Therefore I am unable to understand speech well enough to enjoy a movie without closed captioning. Fortunately my local theaters both have closed captioning units available for use during the shows.

One theater is an AMC theater and uses the Captiview captioning device. See information and photo below describing the technical details of the Captiview. Things I like about the Captiview are:

1. The screen is clear and legible (it might be a bit too small for older persons who also have vision loss, but it works well for me now).

2. The green lettering is easy to read in the darkened theater.

3. You can position the screen just about anywhere so that you can read while also viewing the movie screen.

Cons to the use of the Captiview

1. It can be difficult to view both the Captiview and the images on the movie screen at times

2. Often the arm of the Captiview slides downward as the movie progresses so you need to hold it in place where you want it.

3. Finally, the Captiview sits in your cupholder (if the movie is packed, you might want your cup holder for a drink and you'll find it full)

Sony’s Entertainment Access Glasses

The AMC Theater in town uses the Sony Entertainment Glasses. These are pictured on me to the right. The benefits to these glasses include:

1. comfortable wear even over glasses

2. you can position your head easily to see the screen and the words (displayed on the glasses)

3. accurate captions

Negatives include:

1. Programming the device can be difficult for some employees, since you cannot check to see if it is working before going to the theater, when it isn't you must walk back to fix

See the Caption Glasses

Sony's Entertainment Access Glasses, seen here in a prototype image, display captions for deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers.
Sony's Entertainment Access Glasses, seen here in a prototype image, display captions for deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers. | Source

Sony’s Entertainment Access Glasses

NPR recently published a little piece on these glasses you can read it here.

The Sony brochure describes the glasses as: The movie industry’s transformation to digital technology has created an opportunity to efficiently deliver closed caption data to movie patrons. This coincides with large demand from people with hearing difficulties to watch movies more easily and enjoyably. Sony has therefore developed entertainment access glasses utilizing its unique holographic technology: the STW-C140GI Entertainment Access Glasses with Audio and, as part of this solution, the STWA-C101 Data Transmitter. When wearing this stylish and lightweight see through eyewear, users can see closed caption text seemingly superimposed onto the movie picture that they’re watching on screen - it’s a natural subtitle movie experience. In addition, as the captioning glasses’ receiver box is equipped with an audio assist function, this solution is useful not only for people with hearing difficulties but also for people with visual impairments - both can enjoy movies far more than ever before. With Sony’s entertainment access glasses, a broader range of the movie-going public can now enjoy exciting movie experiences, and exhibitors can achieve valuable service differentiation while also increasing customer traffic.


The Goodrich Quality theater in town uses CaptiView devices to provide closed captioning services. It does a fair job of presenting captions. The benefits include: 1. The screen is easy for me to see. 2. You can position the screen in your field of vision so that you can easily see both the images and the words on the screen.

Downsides: 1. after some use the flexible arm drifts downward & needs to be held in place. 2. It may be hard for persons with vision loss to see. 3. Uses cupholder


CaptiView Image
CaptiView Image | Source
CaptiView Image in Cupholder
CaptiView Image in Cupholder | Source

CaptiView Information

Doremi Cinema introduces the new CaptiView Closed Caption Viewing System for hearing impaired movie audiences.

The CaptiView system transmits and receives AES-128 encrypted closed captions on a wireless band frequency. With an 80 meter signal range, CaptiView can be used from ANY seat in the house (unlike existing “mirror image” systems that limit seat selection).

The CaptiView system consists of a small, OLED display on a bendable support arm that fits into the theater seat cup holder. The easy-to-read screen is equipped with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that lasts up to 16 hours per charge. The high contrast display comes with a privacy visor so it can be positioned directly in front the movie patron with minimal impact or distraction to neighboring patrons.

CaptiView is economically priced to allow the cinema owner to outfit 100% of the multiplex. It runs on the existing Doremi digital cinema server, so no additional hardware is required. It supports SMPTE and Cinecanvas packages, and can support up to six languages simultaneously.

Bottom Line

So my choice would be to use the Sony Entertainment Glasses anytime I visit the theater, unfortunately for me that means I chose one theater over the other. I really like however I move my head the words are still within my field of vision. I don't have to hold anything or readjust anything to see the words. In both dark screened films and lighter screened films the words are clearly visible.

My vote is for the Sony Entertainment Glasses!

Going to the Movies

I am 46, my hearing loss was diagnosed with I was 17 and I was told that I had the normal hearing of your average 65 year old. That meant a high frequency hearing loss. Today that high frequency hearing loss has progressed to having no high frequencies and about 50 decibels of low frequencies. I read lips quite well and often people do not know I'm hearing impaired. In situations where I cannot read lips (more difficult at the movie theater) I am stuck. I receive only about every 3rd word correctly, miss all punch lines and am generally miserable. So why go at all.

Now both of the movie theaters in my hometown offer closed captioning devices for the hearing impaired, and wow, I can understand the words. Perfect! This is a review of these two devices, what works and what might be improved.


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