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Hearing at the Movies and Theaters

The process for obtaining an assistive listening device from movies, theaters, museums, or other public accommodations is relatively straightforward.  The devices are usually kept at the ticket office, information desk, or coat check.

Most facilities require that someone leaves identification such as a driver's license, which is given back when the device is returned.
Always check the power before leaving the pick-up area to make sure the battery is working.  Also examine the headphones.  Unfortunately, not all facilities clean the headphones on a regular basis.  A person may ask for a clean pair of headphones or bring his own.  The same set of headphones that can be purchased at an electronics store to fit a portable radio or CD player will fit an assistive listening device.  Be aware that not all devices are compatible with hearing aids.

The more people who use these devices, the more the management will realize their importance.  Some people refuse to ask for a device because they are afraid or ashamed of looking "disabled."  Given how common hearing impairment is, many more people would probably enjoy shows if they took the time to ask for a device.  Consider yourself a pioneer and teach others that using an assistive listening device is no different from wearing a pair of glasses!

How to get an assistive listening device:

  1. Arrive 10 -- 15 minutes early.
  2. Ask the ticket seller for an "assistive listening device."
  3. You may be asked to leave a driver's license or a small deposit, but there should be no charge for using the device.
  4. Return the device at the end of the show.

How to use the assistive listening device:
Assistive listening devices are easy to use, but if you have difficulty, just ask the ticket seller or the manager for instructions.

  1. Put the headset on.
  2. Turn the unit "on."

Adjust the volume to your comfort level.  Sometimes there will be no sound until the facility turns on the transmitter.  If this is the case, check with the person who gave you the device so you can make sure the battery is working.

If you wear a hearing aid(s):

  1. Put the headset on over the hearing aid(s).
  2. If there is feedback (whistling) from the aids, turn down the hearing aid volume or remove the hearing aid(s).

If you have a T-switch on the hearing aid(s):

  1. Ask if a neckloop is available for the device.
  2. Unplug the headset and plug the neckloop into the device box instead.
  3. Put the neckloop around his neck.
  4. Turn the hearing aid to the "T" position.
  5. Turn up the hearing aid volume to the highest point.
  6. Adjust the volume on the device to your comfort.

At this time, there are two technologies that provide captioning (text words) for movies:  open captioning (Insight Cinema) and Rear Window captioning.  Distribution is still quite limited, both in terms of the number of movies that are captioned, and the number and location of theaters that have the technology.

One way to find out if there is a theater that has this technology is to ask the district manager (you can find out who that is by calling any cinema in the town).

Click here for websites to help you find theaters with this technology.
Hearing at Restaurants and Hotels
 

Restaurants

In restaurants, patrons may request to be seated in a "quiet area," although there are no regulations for how quiet that area must be.  Sitting in a well-lighted area might help someone who uses lip reading as an assistive device.

 

 

Hotels

When staying at a hotel, it is important for a person with hearing loss to be alerted to emergencies such as a fire.  Being able to hear alarm clocks and knocks on the door are also issues of concern.  Currently, hard-of-hearing and deaf individuals staying in a hotel must rely on a portable visual alarm (a strobe light that works with a smoke/fire detection system), or a shake-awake clock (that vibrates the bed), and/or on a door knock alert (a light flashes when there is a knock on the door) if there is an emergency.

Some systems require the hotel staff to specifically activate them, which requires the staff to REMEMBER to do so, which often doesn't happen.  Hotels are also required to provide phone flashers (a light the flashes when the phone is ringing) and phone amplifiers.  The portable unit is plugged into the electrical outlet, which makes it vulnerable to power outages.  In an emergency, hotel staff may forget or are unable to get to rooms where hard-of-hearing or deaf individuals are staying.  Thus, many consider the current procedures to be insufficient.
 

 
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