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November 10, 2002

Listening devices available at movie theaters

From: The Free Lance-Star, VA
Nov. 10, 2002

Listening devices available for hard-of-hearing at local movie theaters.

The Free Lance-Star

The picture on the movie theater screen is clear, but for some in the audience, what the actors are saying is not.

For the hard-of-hearing, not being able to understand what is being said can spoil the pleasure of the movie experience. They must strain to understand, ask a neighbor or just muddle through.

But there is another option.

The hard-of-hearing with hearing aids or cochlear implants can simply turn up the volume on a hand-held FM assistive listening device.

"All theaters should provide at least a few of these small instruments that aid people who have hearing loss," said Arva Priola, coordinator of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the disAbility Resource Center in Fredericksburg. The center serves nine counties in the area.

In addition, the theaters should advertise the availability of the listening devices with the international deaf and hard-of-hearing symbol, an ear with a bar through it, Priola said.

There are 20 listening devices at Massaponax Marquee Cinemas, said Chris Boggs, one of the managers. Hard-of-hearing patrons should request a set at the box office when they buy a ticket, he said.

Regal Cinemas in Fredericksburg also has listening devices, which can be requested from the theater manager, said Dick Westerling, a spokesperson from Regal Cinemas corporate headquarters.

The listening devices, known formally as Assistive Listening Devices, or ALDs, are amplifiers that bring sound directly in to the ear, wrote David Baquls, former director of the Self-Help for the Hard of Hearing National Center on Assistive Technology.

The ALDs can be plugged into a hearing aid that has a telecoil switch, also known as a t-coil, said Priola, who is able to use the device with her cochlear implant.

Another option sometimes available to movie patrons is open or closed captioning. However, it is much more expensive and few theaters offer it.

Regal Cinemas in Fredericksburg does offer occasional open-captioned movies, Westerling said. But the movies are older movies, and there is no consistent way to advertise these listings to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

For more information about assistive listening devices, contact the disAbility Resource Center at 373-2559, voice, 373-5890 TTY or by e-mail,

For availability of assistive listening devices or for times and listings of open-captioned movies, call the theater in your area.

Copyright 2002, The Free Lance-Star Publishing Co. of Fredericksburg, Va.