Now Playing: Regal Movie Theatres Debut Closed Caption Glasses
It's not unusual for the average American to go to the movies about once per month. In 2014, movie theatres sold over $36 billion in movie tickets. For the deaf and hard-of-hearing, going to the movies has been a difficult experience. Scary villains speak in creepy whispers that are difficult to hear, plot details are sometimes left to voiceovers and animated characters are almost impossible to lip-read.
But now, hearing-impaired moviegoers can enjoy films on the big screen the same way they do at home: with subtitles and closed captions.
Regal Cinemas' new Sony Entertainment Access Glasses are like a device from a futuristic movie. The spectacles fit like 3D glasses, and they project text of a movie's dialogue and descriptions of various sounds about 10 feet in front of the user. This feature allows moviegoers to more easily enjoy the cinematic experience. Instead of reading lips and struggling to follow plotlines, the entire movie experience is projected before their eyes.
How do these glasses work? Regal employees set up the glasses for each individual, so all they need to do is put them on and green text will appear over a slightly darkened box when the movie starts. The glasses are attached to a receiver box, which can be adjusted to the preferred display distance (near, mid, far) and brightness (on a scale of 1 to 5).
Regal Cinemas CEO Randy Smith Jr., whose 23-year-old son Ryan is deaf, told NPR that it has been his goal since 1998 "to develop a technology that would allow accessibility to the deaf and blind for every show time, for every feature."
The new Sony devices also come with optional audio tracks on headphones that describe what's happening in the movie for blind and visually impaired people. Hard-of-hearing patrons can also boost the volume of the sound to hear details better.
Patrons are advised to call the movie theatre ahead of time to be sure that this technology is available and arrive early, as the glasses can take up to 20 minutes to prepare.
To learn more about these glasses, watch this video. Enjoy the show!