Make us your home page
Instagram

Regal to let deaf moviegoers see what they've been missing

Lisa Yuan, who is hearing impaired, wears a pair of Sony closed-captioning glasses at a Regal theater in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times

Lisa Yuan, who is hearing impaired, wears a pair of Sony closed-captioning glasses at a Regal theater in Los Angeles.

Raymond Smith Jr. has been trying for nearly two decades to make the movie industry listen to the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing.

This month, the senior executive at Regal Entertainment Group will come closer to his goal. His company, the nation's largest theater chain, will have nearly 6,000 theater screens equipped with closed-captioning glasses that could transform the theatrical experience for millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons who have shunned going to the cinema because previous aids were too clunky or embarrassing to use.

The Knoxville, Tenn., chain has invested more than $10 million in the glasses, which were developed by Sony Electronics Inc. Resembling thick sunglasses, the device uses holographic technology to project closed-caption text that appears inside the lenses, synchronized with the dialogue on the screen.

The system also includes headphones connected to a wireless receiver, with separate audio channels, which play dialogue or allow visually impaired users to listen to a narration track of the film.

For Smith, the investment is the culmination of a personal journey. His son Ryan is deaf. The 23-year-old college student and aspiring screenwriter played an important role in Regal's decision to order the glasses last year.

"He was our guinea pig," said Smith, counsel and chief administrative officer for Regal. "Every time a new prototype came out, he gave me immediate feedback."

Until now, movie options for the deaf and hearing impaired have been limited. Initially, studios released few movies with captions. Exhibitors screened them infrequently, or at odd hours. When cinemas introduced closed-caption devices mounted in seats, many users found them clunky, conspicuous or incompatible with their hearing aids.

The new Sony glasses — which cost theater owners $1,750 (including a receiver and transmitter) but are free to customers — don't have such problems, advocates say.

"They don't stand out or make you look different, and people don't have to dip their heads to look at a screen and miss what's going on," said Nanci Linke-Ellis, a partner in Captionfish, a search engine for captioned movies and trailers. "The majority of people I know have not gone to the movies in 35 years because the technology wasn't available. This is a game changer."

AMC Theatres and Cinemark USA Inc., the second- and third-largest chains, respectively, offer different closed-captioning devices.

.Fast Facts

Tampa Bay area Regal cinemas

Regal Citrus Park Stadium 20

7999 Citrus Park Town Center Mall, Citrus Park

(813) 920-9471

Regal Park Place Stadium 16 & RPX

7200 U.S. 19 N, Pinellas Park

(727) 527-1930

Regal Largo Mall 8

10500 Ulmerton Road E, Largo

(727) 581-7389

Regal Hollywood 18-Port Richey

6701 Cinema Drive, Port Richey

(727) 862-9567

Regal Oakmont 8

4801 Cortez Road W, Bradenton

(941) 795-4106

Regal to let deaf moviegoers see what they've been missing 05/19/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 19, 2013 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.

  2. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims

    Banking

    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  3. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  4. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code

    Banking

    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  5. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]