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Going to the movie theatre for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person can be difficult. The sound may big and loud, but often it is not intelligible to those with hearing loss. A person may have hearing aids, but the aids sometimes make the sounds louder, but the speech remains unintelligible.

Some movie theatres have equipment to help the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, but most don't work with hearing aids. The following are the two most common devices used in theatres in Metro Vancouver.

Infrared (IR): Infrared systems transmit sound in the form of invisible light waves. A transmitter is located at the front of the theatre and individuals can special wireless receivers. The receivers take the light and transform it into sound. The receiver is connected to earphones or headphones that one will place onto one's ears.  If you have a mild to moderate hearing loss, these devices work fine. However, if you have a severe or profound hearing loss, these devices give inadequate amplification. Theatres like the Queen Elizabeth, Stanley, Orpheum and Arts Club Theatres typically have these available upon request.

Rear Window Captioning (RWC): Rear Window Captioning (RWC) is a patented captioning system that used strictly in Silver City, Colossus, and ScotiaBank Theatres, which are all under the Cineplex family of movie cinemas. Deaf and Hard of Hearing guests obtain a clear plastic panel from the cashier. The panel can then be attached to the drink holder. The panel reflects an LED text display in the back of the theatre. The guest is supposed to adjust the reflective panel until the words are comfortably displayed below or at the bottom of their view of the movie screen.

RWC is handy to catch all of the dialogue of a movie. It works in a style similar to subtitles or captioning for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing on DVDs. Only limitations are that the theatre often has very few panels available. Also, only one theatre in each complex is equipped for RWC. So check your local listings to see what movie has RWC.

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