Having hearing loss shouldn’t stop you from going to the cinema. There are more subtitled screenings than ever before, plus there’s listening equipment for you to use at cinemas.
Many cinemas now provide accessibility information on their websites. This should help you to plan your trip to the cinema.
Subtitled film screenings
Subtitled screenings let you follow the dialogue and background soundtrack to a film. There are more now than ever before, although you may find local screenings are limited.
The screenings will normally be listed as ‘ST’, ‘subtitled’ or ‘captioned’ on the cinema’s website. All subtitled screenings are also listed on the website YourLocalCinema.com, where you can search for films by location and film title.
If the screening times at your local cinema are unsuitable, and if you think more people would like to attend subtitled screenings, let the cinema know.
Listening equipment in cinemas
There are two main types of listening equipment available at cinemas: hearing loops and infrared systems.
Hearing loops are generally found in the public area of the cinema where interaction happens, such as at the ticket office and refreshment counter, as well as in some cinema screens. A hearing loop sends sound from a source – such as a microphone at a counter – straight to hearing aids on the hearing loop setting (this used to be called the ‘T’ setting). Most hearing aids have a hearing loop setting.
Infrared systems are a better option for when you’re watching a film, as hearing loop systems can pick up interference and sounds from other screens nearby. The cinema provides an infrared neckloop receiver and all you have to do is turn on the hearing loop setting on your hearing aids. If you’re unsure about how the system works, cinema staff should be able to explain.
If any of the advertised equipment doesn’t work, it’s best to alert a member of staff – they should be able to resolve the issue, or provide you with an alternative.
Problems at the cinema
When you arrive at the cinema, you should be confident of having a fully accessible experience. The staff should know how to operate the hearing loop and infrared systems – and to have some level of deaf awareness, such as understanding the importance of speaking to you clearly and directly. If these systems aren’t available, you can ask why. Your cinema may not be aware of them.
If you’re uncomfortable raising issues face to face, contact the cinema when you’re back home by letter or email. It’s important to make the cinema staff aware of any issues you have experienced so that they can resolve them for your next visit.
To find out more about enjoying films and other arts, download our leaflet Enjoying TV, film and the arts.