Boston Light & Sound (BL&S) loves finding ways to bring the joy of film to all. Through portable closed captioning and special movie narration, BL&S is helping to enhance the moviegoing experience for hearing- and visually-impaired patrons. Our accessibility products encompass:
In addition to providing accessibility products, we also work closely with movie theatres to help them prepare for the latest ADA-compliance requirements.
To improve accessibility for visually- and hearing-impaired moviegoers, the Department of Justice ruled that movie theatres need to provide access to closed captioning and audio descriptions whenever showing a digital movie that was produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features. The ADA compliance ruling left many theatres unsure about how best to move forward with meeting the requirement to comply by 2018. Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline decided to take the lead on improving accessibility by partnering with Boston Light & Sound (BL&S).
The BL&S team had already played an integral role in enabling the Coolidge to upgrade to digital cinema systems. For the accessibility project, BL&S advised the theatre on the best equipment for their needs and installed the equipment, which included both closed captioning and audio narration for moviegoers.
BL&S installed the equipment seamlessly during off hours to prevent any disruption to the theatre’s programming. The accessibility improvements include a wireless system with two radio frequencies: one for hearing assist and one for visual narration. Patrons can put the small hearing assist device – about the size of a flip phone – around their necks and it will transmit directly into headphones or a hearing aid. Visually-impaired patrons can hear narration describing the scene in the movie. A professional narrator speaks the descriptions in a way that doesn’t interfere with the movie’s dialog.
Hearing-impaired patrons can also take advantage of personal captioning devices. Attached to the chair, these small devices can be positioned just under the movie screen from patrons’ points of view, enabling them to read the dialog.
To provide the best experience to all moviegoers, the Coolidge decided to install the equipment for all four of its digital cinema screens. Once the installation was complete, the theatre organized a trial of the system with a local advocacy group, giving BL&S valuable insight into which peripheral devices would best serve the needs of hearing- and visually-impaired patrons. They found that moviegoers preferred the seat-mounted personal captioning devices to options such as wearing large captioning glasses.
BL&S trained the theatre staff to use the equipment, and provided signage to inform moviegoers that these new devices were now available upon request.
The theatre has received positive feedback about the system from many patrons who are thrilled to be able to see and hear first-run movies. Some said having these devices enticed them back to the theatre.
For visual- and hearing-impaired accessibility consultation and installations, please contact:
Film & Digital Cinema Manager
617.787.3131, ext. 118