Sony Entertainment Access Glasses

I miss gainful employment, music, and going to the movies.  I got hooked on movies in the 7th grade at Clark Howell Elementary School, formerly on 10th St between Juniper and Piedmont, now the site of a City of Atlanta fire station.  Clark Howell Elementary housed the Atlanta Public Schools film library.  An audio-visual license available to 7th grade boys entitled the holder to operate the 16mm Bell and Howell projector, a certified accomplishment, status of seniority and acquired skill.  I showed individual classrooms as well as assemblies of the entire school films like The Last of the Mohicans starring Randolph Scott as Hawkeye, John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda, and Les Miserables with Frederic March as Jean Valjean and Charles Laughton, unforgetable as Inspector Javert.
For the next 50 years after the 7th grade, I took the enjoyment of movies for granted, like breathing in and out or the beating of my heart.  Then I lost my hearing, 100% in both ears, due to meningitis in 2006.  I have had to make do with foreign language films, captioned in English, and the slim pickings from chain theaters of Hollywood releases with captions for the hearing impaired.  Yes, I saw the 2012 Oscar winner “The Artist,” the most successful silent movie since The Jazz Singer made Al Jolson a star in 1927.
Movie captioning at a theater near you has lagged behind television and DVD rentals.  Captions for the hearing impaired have been in three varieties.  Closed captions—white letters on a black rectangle, covering part of the movie screen.  Open captions—letters superimposed directly across the movie scene, unreadable without proper contrast.  Rear Window—a clumsy  contraption like a goose-neck lamp that sits in the cup holder of the theater seat and is like watching the movie in the rear view mirror of your car parked backwards at the drive-in.
Recently Regal Cinemas of Knoxville, Tn., and Sony electronics of California and other Pacific Ocean locations have introduced a new technology that makes movies accessible again for me and others who are hearing impaired, statistically 10 percent of the population.  The new Sony technology transmits the captions wirelessly for holographic display right on the lenses of special glasses, not on the movie screen.  The  Sony Entertainment Access Glasses may be worn over any eyewear already used by the moviegoer.  Since the captions do not appear on the screen, other movie customers do not experience any distraction of captions.  Descriptive audio is also provided through the wieless receiver and can be accessed by connection of an assistive neck-loop,  compatible with some hearing aids, or headphones, for movie patrons who have low vision or are blind.
Here's a youtube video demonstration.  With Captions.
Until now, the number of movies at the multi-plex shown with any form of captions has been limited to just enough to side-step Americans With Disabilities Act litigation, no more than three or four films, even in large metropolitan areas like Atlanta, and showings were often scheduled for some off-peak time, mid-week, mid-day, like Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.  As I write this, the weekly listing by the captioned movies search engine Captionfish found the following captioned features scheduled multiple times daily, including weekends, at 10 theaters within 60 miles of my home in DeKalb County, Georgia:
Alex Cross, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Flight, Fun Size, Here Comes the Boom, Hotel Transylvania, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Looper, Paranormal Activity 4, ParaNorman, Pitch Perfect, Red Dawn, Rise of the Guardians, Sinister, Skyfall, Taken 2, The Man with the Iron Fists, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Silver Linings, Playbook. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2, Wreck-It Ralph.
A significant increase over the past.  Pardon my understatement.  Regal Cinemas currently offers the largest share of these captioned showings.  Within a month, I have seen The Master in Snellville and Lincoln at Atlantic Station, doubling my movie attendance for the year to date.
Currently 200 Regal theatres nationwide offer the Sony Entertainment Access System, which is expected to be in all of Regal’s digital cinemas by April.  Regal  Entertainment Group operates 6,597 screens at 522 locations in 37 states and the District of Columbia.   “We are encouraged by the positive feedback already received regarding the new technology,”  Regal said.
Modern multi-plex movie theater projection booths no longer resemble your father's Last Picture Show, no metal reels of sprocket-fed celluloid.  Each digital movie is contained on a hard-disk, ready to be connected to a digital projector, which is controlled by a central computer.  Maybe another name will evolve for these electronic optical illusions rather than film or movies.  It is still hard to beat the oldest: magic lanterns.  Also connected to the digital projector is a transmitter that produces the wireless signal for the Sony Entertainment Access Glasses.
Introducing new technology may be a bumpy road.  Suggestion: Give yourself some extra time when you arrive at the theater.  Let the customer service manager demonstrate  the glasses.  Read the instructions before you take your seat and the movie begins.  For a preview of the illustrated instructions provided by Regal, click here.  I intend to print them out and bring them with me from now on every time I go to the movies.
A Regal spokesman acknowledges “the many years of aid, insight and support provided by advocates within the deaf, hard of hearing, blind and low vision communities," including Riverside, CA’s Model Deaf Community, American Council of the Blind, City of La Verne Inclusion Advisory Committee, Hearing Loss Association of America, Metropolitan Nashville Mayor’s Advisory Committee, California School for the Deaf, Mid Tennessee Council of the Blind, multiple local disability resource centers, and Captionfish.
Fellow clients of the Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired, which provides my Captel caption telephone, share stories of their experiences  at restaurants (don't even try the drive-thru), banks (use the debit card machine), and retailers that all too often register on a scale between insensitive and insulting.  The manager of a major home improvement store in Atlanta said to me, “Sir, don’t raise your voice.  I’m not deaf.”
I removed the external device of my cochlear implant from behind my ear and held it out to him in the open palm of my hand.  “I am,” I said.

(Reprinted from Like the Dew, a journal of southern culture and politics)


Virtual Silence

I logged on to for President Obama’s virtual Town Hall Meeting, only to discover the video feed was not captioned. My cochlear implant, a miracle but far from perfect, makes me a member of the statistical 10 percent of the population which is hearing disabled. Thanks for network television. How can I utter such an absurdity? Life is full of contradictions and puzzlements. Congress required commercial television to provide captions. Thanks for Congress. Another two-edged utterance. Most new movies for rent at Blockbuster and Hollywood Videos are captioned. A limited few shopping mall movie houses offer captioned showings. Last week, my wife and I enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire, Oscar winner for best film, during lunchtime on Sunday at Atlantic Station. It has been a while since we went to a theatre to see a movie that was not a foreign language film with English subtitles. Check out my blog NOW SHOWING…With Captions, which I update weekly with times and locations of local movies captioned for the hearing impaired. Would you want to see those movies selections at those times of day? Worse is the situation with videos on the internet, virtually never carrying any captions.

The behind the ear processor of my cochlear implant can be connected directly to the audio of my television set, cassette tape or cd player, and some landline telephones. However, I am not able to hook up to my cell phone. I have to turn on the speaker-phone feature, and my guess is not as good as yours as to what the person is saying on the other end of the phone call. I wanted to get one of those little portable, battery operated televisions for picnics and other outdoor fun. However, the requirement to make televisions capable of displaying captions does not apply to screens smaller than 13 inches. My universal television remote contains 45 buttons in black, gray, orange, red, green, yellow, and blue. None of them will turn on the captions.

Many federal laws have been enacted over the past 20 years to require greater access to telecommunications. However, fast-paced technological advancements outrun the laws. Television programs re-shown on the Internet are not covered by caption requirements, even if originally broadcast with captions. Small TVs, cell phones, PDAs, and other mobile devices are not required to display captions, despite the technical capability. Emergency 9-1-1 call centers cannot accept calls from people who need to communicate via video, pagers or other assistive devices.

A 21st Century Telecommunications and Video Accessibility Act, introduced in the last session of Congress, would correct some of these exclusions from modern media. I signed petition by The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) to have the bill reintroduced in the current session of Congress and ensure that people with disabilities have access to evolving high speed broadband, wireless, and other Internet-based technologies.

Here are some of the issues advocated by COAT:

Hearing Aid Compatibility.

Accessibility to internet-based communication products and services, if "readily achievable," the same requirement currently imposed on all telecommunications manufacturers and service providers.

Equal access to 9-1-1 emergency call centers through voice, text, the Internet, video, and any other new technologies.

Universal Service Fund (USF) coverage for video calls, as well as specialized equipment for deaf-blind consumers.

Caption decoding and display capability for all televisions, recording, and playback devices, with screens of any size.

Captioning obligations for Internet-based video programming.

Control buttons to turn captions on and off.

Copyright 2009 by Williaqm C. Cotter


Caveat Empty

There are no guarantees. I hope the information in this blog is helpful. That is all I mean for it to be. Maybe not perfect, but maybe helpful. I recently went to see a movie in Atlanta at Atlantic Station, near my old neighborhood, now called Midtown. Atlantic Station is built over the bulldozed grounds once containing the Atlantic Steel Mill and neighborhoods of O’Keefe High School, rival of Grady High School, my alma mater. When I arrived at the box office of the gleaming new multi-plex movie theatre in Atlantic Station, on a street itself that looks slightly make-believe, like a movie-set, I double-checked with the ticket seller to confirm that indeed the film I came to see was Open-Captioned for the hearing impaired, and that this was the time of the scheduled showing. My wife and I bought our tickets, located the theatre with the name of our movie, as well as the important designation of “OC” for Open Captions over the entrance. We took our seats and entertained ourselves with popcorn and soft-drinks while the usual non-captioned movie previews played. Then our movie began. But no captions. We waited. Maybe there was a technical problem. Still no captions. We left our seats and found the theatre manager, who apologized for our inconvenience. They must have received a copy of the film with no captions by mistake. This sometimes happens. I was not happy. We had gone to the trouble of driving there and parking in a cumbersome underground lot, spent $20 on popcorn and soft-dinks, and now the evening was pretty much shot. More apologies. A cash refund for the purchase price of the tickets. Plus two free passes. They did their best.

In the past year, I have actually chosen to go to two movies that I knew were not captioned. I went to see Bobby, the movie about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, figuring it was about something I was so familiar with that I did not really need to understand exactly every word that was said. Also I thought this would be an interesting experiment for my cochlear implant brand of hearing, which tests at around 85-percent comprehension in the quiet of my audiologist’s office, then drops like a rock with the introduction of background noise, complexity, and reality. I enjoyed Bobby just fine. Another time I went to see No Country for Old Men, without captions. I had read the book by Cormack McCarthy, probably my favorite living writer, twice. I knew the story, the taciturn dialogue, and straightforward moral. Unfortunately, I did not get much out of this film, even though it won all the Oscars. I’ll try it again when my rental store gets the DVD, with captions.

Please, please offer your comments and suggestions about this blog. Feel free to e-mail me at

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter


Captioned Movies

Before movies had sound, they had captions. Whatever dialogue silent movie stars like Rudolf Valentino, Lillian Gish, and Charlie Chaplin might have uttered, the words had to be flashed across the screen. Who cares today? You would if you had a hearing impairment, statistically 10-percent of the population, approximately one million Georgians, including me. I became deaf two years ago, 100 percent in both ears, medically quantified as “profound hearing loss,” a snort of a euphemism if ever there was one. I did not lose my lifelong love of movies. Thankfully, modern technology has made captioning available as the standard for television broadcasting, and virtually all new DVD’s for rent at Blockbusters and Hollywood Video stores are captioned. Lagging far behind are the shopping mall movie houses. Some of the large chains offer just enough captioned presentations to hold off lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, when I have an urge to sit in a dark theatre and munch popcorn, I can not just head over to the nearest megaplex and take my pick of the current attractions showing morning, noon, and night. Only a very few will have been captioned, and of the available captioned movies, the next scheduled showing may well be a week from Tuesday at 3:45.

There are different types of captions. Closed Captions are printed on a dark strip across the screen, as is common on television. Open Captions are just writing superimposed over whatever is being depicted on the screen. Reading Open Captions ranges in difficulty from not always easy to completely lost, depending on background contrast. A third caption system is a sort of hologram projected simultaneously with the film. This Rear Window Captioning requires a special tower-like device provided by the theatre, placed in the cup-holder of your seat armrest, and adjustable to viewing height. You watch the movie and the reflected, rear-projection captions simultaneously, like driving down the road without taking your eyes off the rear view mirror.

I have attended captioned movies in Atlanta at Atlantic Station, North DeKalb Mall, I-85 Access Rd, and on Cobb Parkway near Cumberland Mall. Here are some links to captioned movie listings with showtimes and locations of various chains:


Of course, all over America, foreign language films are always shown with captions, called English sub-titles. If they are shown at all. If foreign films are your cup of tea. I am lucky. I have liked foreign films for a long time. My childhood buddy Luther was a year ahead of me in school and more than a year older. When he turned 16, he got a job as an usher at the Art Theatre in Atlanta, on the corner of Peachtree and Thirteenth, a block from where I lived. Luther would sneek me in through the FIRE door to see movies starring Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren, whose natural talents were as hot as it got on the cusp of the 1950's becoming the 1960's without any special advance warning. Luther and I had always enjoyed what you might call minimal adult supervision, from our trail-blazing single mothers or anybody else's Aunt Polly. One thing leads to another. Eventually, we’re watching films by Frederico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman.

Lefont Sandy Springs, on Roswell Rd., and Midtown Art Cinema, on Monroe Drive, across the street from Grady Stadium, regularly feature foreign language films with English sub-titles.

E-Peachy News contains a variety of useful information of interest for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing & Hearing Impaired. Their feature Fomdi provides a great look-up by your zip code to find captioned movies.

Insight Cinema, once a source for captioned movie listings nationwide, has closed down as of the end of April, because it ran out of money. I am trying to figure out how to use my blog for a convenient place to find captioned movies. This is a first attempt.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

Find Today's Movies

With Captions