Uncaptioned Movies = Sad Mom

The trip to my local AMC movie theater was a spontaneous Father’s Day present. My two older kids wanted to honor Dad and catch a matinee showing of Toy Story 3. I tagged along since all the Pixar movies were such a hit with our family. My husband and children spent the next two-and-a-half hours laughing at Woody and Buzz’s banter. I faked a chuckle here and there. Because of my hearing loss and the fact that captioned movies are almost nonexistent these days at local theaters, I didn’t understand a word.

As co-founder of the Kansas City Chapter of the Hearing Loss of America (HLAA), I receive e-mails from people in their 20s, 30s and 40s facing hearing loss. Recent reports link increased hearing loss with teenagers. Aging Baby Boomers make up the largest demographic represented at my local hearing aid supplier’s office. How come a movie theater chain can’t accommodate their need for captioned movies so they can enjoy entertainment like everyone else?

Not long ago, some local AMC theaters showed rear-window captioned movies. It required the viewer to place a reflective-mirror device inside the seat’s cup holder, and captions from the theater’s back walls reflected onto the glass. While not ideal since the mirror device didn’t always work well, I could understand movie dialogue this way. A few years ago, I watched an open-captioned version of Mama Mia!, in which the words displayed directly on the film in front of me. This was my favorite movie-going experience thus far, and it was at an AMC theater.

When a member of the local HLAA chapter asked about the decline of captioned movies in their theaters, the local AMC representative responded, “Rear window captioning that functions with our new digital platform will be installed by the end of the month. Studio 30 will actually be the first theatre among our entire chain to have this upgrade completed. Once the device is installed and functioning as expected you will see the ‘CC’ indicators next to the film titles on the internet as well as in the newspaper.” This was written on July 27, and no captioned movies have returned to that AMC location. Our chapter will continue to monitor this cause and will feature updates on our Web site at http://hlaakc.blogspot.com/.

Write, call, or e-mail our theaters and request the return of captions. If all of us do this, then the Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing populations can enjoy movies together. And I will be able to understand the next animated flick I view with my children.

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