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Going to a Movie Theater with Hearing Loss [Infographic]

Make the most of your next trip to the movies with these accommodations.

Before going to a movie theater with hearing loss, do a bit of research to see what kinds of assistive listening devices the theater has available.

There’s a lot to enjoy about a trip to the movie theater: the delicious popcorn and snacks, being transported to another time and place for just a few hours, and a chance to see your favorite actors up close on the big screen. But going to the movie theater with hearing loss can come with some logistical challenges as well.

Here are a few tips to make the most of your next escape to the cinema go smoothly for everyone in your group!

Check out an assistive listening device
Check with the theater you plan to visit and see that they offer assistive listening devices or amplified headsets to rent so you can listen to the movie at a comfortable, easy-to-understand volume for you. Many theaters will also offer closed captioning devices, which display captions in time with the film on a device that can fit into the cupholder of your seat.

Nearly all movie theaters in the U.S. are required to offer some form of assistive listening device that moviegoers can rent, but it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure they’ll be available for your screening and that an employee will be on hand if you require any help getting the device set up.

Read more about common assistive listening devices available at movie theaters here.

Attend a screening with open captioning 
A growing number of theaters offer movies with open captioning — captions that appear on the screen similar to subtitles — for moviegoers with hearing loss in addition to their standard closed captioning options. For example, AMC announced it was adding open captioning to 240 of its locations last year.

To see if your local theater offers open-captioned screenings, visit their website and search the showtimes or contact the theater directly to see what they have available.

Pick a theater that’s part of a chain
If possible, schedule your movie outing at a theater that’s part of a larger chain. Theaters that are part of regional or national chains are more likely to have multiple accommodations available for people with hearing loss, as well as more screenings available to reserve some with open captioning.

Many theater chain websites will also have dedicated web pages describing the accommodations they have for visitors with hearing loss, so you can research your options ahead of time.

Come prepared with hearing protection
Movie theaters these days are often equipped with state-of-the-art speaker systems — which can sometimes mean dangerously loud noise levels at certain parts of the film, especially if you’re headed to an action flick or superhero blockbuster. Help protect your hearing health by bringing your own ear plugs or other protection and having them ready for any particularly noisy scenes.

If you’re more of a live theater fan, check out these recommendations for attending a live performance with hearing loss. And keep reading the CapTel blog for more helpful hearing loss resources!