Hearing-Impaired Moviegoers Get High-Tech Assistance - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Hearing-Impaired Moviegoers Get High-Tech Assistance

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If you are hearing impaired, a trip to the movies may not be very exciting all the time.  But, one entertainment company is offering cutting-edge technology to change that experience for the better.  Details in this News 13 follow up report.

It all started a little over a year ago.  Angela Kummer contacted News 13 about obstacles she and others hearing impaired face at the movies.  She told us, "I had been a couple of times, but couldn't understand…so, I just quit going."

So we reached out to the companies that own and operate theatres here in Bay County.  We were pleased to learn that one of them, Regal Entertainment Group, was upgrading its digital projection systems across the country.

Company officials told me a new closed-captioned system involving special glasses had been developed *exclusively* with Sony.  Regal's 23rd Street location in Panama City was in line to receive the new technology.  That happened here late last fall.

According to Regal, the system includes specially designed lightweight glasses for guests who are deaf, hard of hearing or have low vision.  By looking through the eyewear, the viewer can see closed captioning directly in their line of sight for both 2D and 3D movies.  The assistive technology can accommodate headphones or neck loops connected to the wireless receiver to hear descriptive audio tracks for patrons who have low vision or those who are blind.

So, for Angela Kummer, movie time changed about two weeks ago.  Angela says she and her seventeen-year old daughter stopped by Regal Regency Stadium 11 and enjoyed the big screen in a whole new way…for the first time.  Angela told us, "actually we had a blast.  It felt great to be able to go to a movie and understand it.  And we had a great time.  I'm ready to go back. 

Last Saturday, Angela met a friend, also hearing impaired, at Regal Regency Theatre.  After getting their hi-tech glasses., they were ready to enjoy Saturday at the movies.

As for the other movie companies here in Bay County...Southern Theatres, which operates The Grand at Pier Park, currently offers head phones for assistance and will be offering a type of LED viewer in the future.  Carmike officials tell me they provide headphones in Panama City and may also be upgrading to another device to help customers.