Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie Description Comes to Fresno CA.

I am lucky to live quite near to Fresno CA. I live about an hours drive away and so weekends often see me visiting the city and its movie theaters, almost all of which are own by the Regal Entertainment Group.

Several weeks ago my wife noticed some posters going up around the cinemas declaring that they were about to provide some new services for disabled patrons, in particular deaf and blind patrons.

For the deaf they have begun to provide special glasses which allow the wearer to have closed caption subtitles onto the glasses, so the deaf viewer can follow the dialogue in any movie equiped with the neccessary closed captions. Also there is an enhanced audio facility on the same device as the Audio description device, this gives louder clearer audio but at least one customer service person didn't know the difference between enhanced audio and audio description as I mention later.

For blind patrons there is a headset which provides a descriptive narration of what is on the screen.

All these services are free to patrons,

In order to use the service you buy your ticket as normal at the box office then go to the Customer Service desk in the lobby of the Cinema. The service is also available at our local IMAX cinema too, but you must collect the headset from Edwards River Park at the time you purchase the ticket, then walk across the plaza to the IMAX Theater.

A couple of problems with the service whicht I have encountered are that one customer service person set the small receiver box to the wrong setting and so I missed several minutes of one movie going back to the customer service area to have them re-set the box from closed caption to audio description.

At the moment there is no way for you to test the setting until the actual movie starts, so any problem and you miss the begining of the movie.

Also the headset does not fit over the top of your head but around the back of your neck and there are loops which hold the earpieces to your ears. The solid headband catches the back of your seat if you lean back and the ear loops pull on your ears. This can give you both a stiff neck and sore ears after a couple of hours wear.

The audio description on the movies which I have seen is very good, especially when it comes to subtitling. In the past my wife used to have to read subtitles to me or tell me what was happening in dark portions of the movie.  This constant interruption to her viewing often distracted her and caused some other patrons to complain from their seats.

This audio description service now makes it more likely that I can go see movies alone, it also enhances my wife's enjoyment of the whole movie going experience.

These services are not yet available at all Regal Cinemas but they are being rolled out over time and I look forward to the time when the service does become standard.

I have a link to Regal Cinemas where you can find your nearest Regal Cinema equipped with this service.

I hope that you will be able to try it for yourselves. It is definitely a positive move to give us added independence.