[adp-list] Audio Description and Movie Theaters

Judy Davis judy.l.davis79 at gmail.com
Mon May 28 00:17:10 EDT 2018

Greetings, all!


I am quite new to the list, so please excuse any naïve comments I might make.  


I have been going to a Regal theater for probably more than ten years-using description during that time.  More recently after a move to a different side of town I have been going to an AMC theater using description there for the last year or so.  There are a couple of things I do, which I think makes a more successful experience with description possible.  At both of these theaters they are using receivers that can be set for volume and captioning for people with hearing loss or for description for people with vision loss.  As someone mentioned before there is no way that I could change or set the settings.  


First at Regal I stress that I am there for description, and I know that for those receivers that it has to be set on “V.”  I usually mention this sometime during the set-up process.  I think it can be confusing because we are needing to hear something, so should it not be put on the hearing setting?  Also I try to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the movie starts, so I am not feeling rushed, and therefore am not rushing the staff.  Also, I ask at the box office for them to call someone to meet me at the customer service desk.  


Second for my own sake as well as for the person with whom I may be seeing the movie I have the direct number to get assistance.  This way if there is a problem with the way the receiver is set I call the box office, so that neither my friend nor I will have to leave the auditorium to get things straightened out.  The staff is fine with coming to me. 


Third-at both of these theaters before the previews start and usually after the previews end there are commercials that contain description, so if I hear description during these commercials I know I can turn off my cell phone because the equipment is set properly.  I want to think these are Coco-cola or some type of refreshment commercial.  Also, very, very rarely a studio may have decided to have a movie preview announce the name of the movie through the description track.  There is not a description of the preview-just an announcement of the movie title and its studio.  


Finally, I think part of it is persistence and friendliness.  I have gone fairly regularly to see described movies, so people recognize me.  I am always friendly, and to make it a bit easier for them and more comfortable for myself I use my own headphones, so that they do not have to go through the process of getting headphones sterilized or prepared for me. Also the headphones I use have a volume control on them, so I max out the volume on the receiver, and then put it in the cup holder, and never touch it again until the movie is over, so perhaps this keeps me from inadvertently bumping a button and screwing up the way it is set.  Since they know me I have the rapport that if something goes wrong with the description not working even though the receiver is set correctly and the description has been rebooted the staff give me complimentary passes, and they try to help me find another movie that will be starting soon that I may be interested in seeing.  Problems very rarely happen now.  


I think people with vision loss regularly going to see described movies is probably better than having a tool kit, because the staff see the equipment being used and people enjoying the movies.  Frequently when turning in the equipment people will ask me how I liked the movie.  Often when I answer this question I try to work in how much the description made the difference.  However, people with vision loss who have not yet built up a rapport with the staff will need to be patient as staff are getting used to asking for equipment to be set on description. Also, I think the chance of success is greatly helped if the person with vision loss has a white cane or guide dog, so that helps build up the proper association of how the equipment needs to be set.  


There were definitely bumps early on this road for me, but it has smoothed out.  Some of this may have been helped that early in the process when there were only two auditoriums at the Regal theater that had description, and before it was easy to learn which movies had description I called and talked to or emailed the projectionist and/or a manager on a weekly basis to get this info, and they knew I had an email list to let others with vision loss in the area know what movies had description.  


I know there is a turnover in staff, so sometimes the education may need to be restarted. I must admit I am relieved when I hear a familiar voice at customer service, so that I know that all should be well.  


I do not know if you would find this information helpful, but I live in a city of about 90,000, so it is not a big city, but big enough.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification of what I tried to write.  


Take care,




From: Tina Hansen via adp-list [mailto:adp-list at acblists.org] 
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2018 2:42 AM
To: 'ACB Audio Description Project Discussion List'
Cc: Tina Hansen
Subject: [adp-list] Audio Description and Movie Theaters


It seems that there are still many gaps to fill whenever anyone on this list heads out for the movies. I keep thinking about what happened to my  friend back in February with The Last Jedi. My friend had to rely on her companion to describe things.


While I’m not giving up on my vision for a cloud-based description library, I do recognize that movie theaters need to be educated on the need to provide the right equipment. Evidently, the night my friend was at the theater, they likely didn’t have enough accessibility equipment.


This whole thing leads me to the question of how to educate theater staff about audio description, especially if they don’t know it exists. I can’t bare the thought of someone getting the wrong device before a film and having to bail out during the movie, yet this still seems to be happening.


With all this, I want to put some questions out there. Is there a need for a tool kit for consumers like myself to use when meeting with theater staff? It seems that these people almost need to have this dramatized so they get the point.


Also, I know we’re still hearing about people getting the wrong receiver. This leads me to wonder if it’s time for a sort of all-in-one accessibility receiver that is programmed for both, and the user need only be advised what channel they need to get the description instead of the amplified audio. I know the Actiview app is doing this, but its content so far is limited. Is it time for the theaters to take a page from the air carriers and outfit their seats with headset connections instead of giving customers a receiver?


The other major issue seems to be how to know you’re getting the right receiver before your movie begins so you don’t have to leave the theater. I understand this may be addressed, but if it is, I’m not sure it’s consistent.


Bottom line: It’s the old chicken and egg question all over again. I get the feeling that with the ever-changing technology, it’s getting harder and harder for movie theaters to keep up, but even more so for consumers. Also, I wish there was some way to really make an impact on this issue, not just in the short term, but for the long haul. How do we establish dialog with local movie theaters, especially those that are part of a chain? What have people on this list done to try to make a dent in this issue? Thanks.


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