How to Enjoy the Movies with Hearing Loss

“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.”   -Roger Ebert

If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss, your first thought may be about hearing aids or maintaining good communication with loved ones, but many soon find that there’s more to consider. The simple things in life, like a trip to the movies, may take a little more thought and planning.

Movie buffs newly diagnosed with hearing loss have no need to worry, though. In fact, it’s easier to enjoy movies with hearing loss than ever before thanks to technology and greater accessibility!

ADA and movie theaters

It used to be that if you had hearing loss and wanted to enjoy a movie at the theater, you were on your own to figure out how to do that… if you went at all. In recent years, that has all changed thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The original rule in 1990 and its subsequent clarifications require that:

  • Movie theater auditoriums provide closed movie captioning and audio description when showing a digital movie distributed with such features unless doing so would result in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration.
  • Movie theaters have a specified number of captioning devices and audio description devices based on the number of auditoriums in the movie theater that show digital movies.

These rules were a huge step forward for the millions with hearing loss.

Movies and hearing loss

Whether you prefer sci-fi thrillers, blockbuster flicks, indie films, romantic comedies or you make it a point to see all the best film nominees before the Oscars roll around, your hearing loss doesn’t have to come between you and the action. There are now several ways to get the most out of movies when you head out to the theater.

  • Accessibility options at movie theaters
    Most movie theaters, including big-name theaters such as AMC, now offer a variety of options for the hearing impaired (and others) to fully experience their movies. These may include:

    • Assistive listening devices – a receiver allows you to amplify and control the sound of the film according to your needs
    • Closed-captioning devices- all the sound of the movie appears on a special closed-captioning device that may be attached to your chair or, in some cases, is a pair of glasses worn by the moviegoer

Do call ahead to verify which options your movie theater offers and for which movies. Websites such as may also help you find accessible theaters and movies near you. Once you arrive at the theater, visit guest services to borrow a listening or closed captioning device for your screening.

Other options at the movies

While these assistive listening and closed captioning devices now available at movie theaters may be your best options to enjoy films with hearing loss. That’s not all. Some report that noise-canceling headphones can help you better understand the dialog in some cases. However you choose to immerse yourself in the action, don’t feel like you have to give up on going out to the movies after a hearing loss diagnosis. Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips to peaking through those windows into someone else’s world.

If you have questions about assistive listening devices or how hearing aids may help you hear the world and your favorite movies more clearly, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

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