No reason for vision or hearing impaired to miss the holiday movies


The holidays are the most popular season for movie-going, but all too often the hearing or sight-impaired are left at home. If you live near one of many specially-equipped theaters, however, they can now enjoy Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa or Quantum of Solace in the theater, aided by subtitles or a helpful descriptive narrative.

The MoPix service, developed by the Media Access Group at WGBH in Boston, provides adaptive technology for both the hearing and sight challenged. Its Rear Window Captioning System uses an acrylic panel mounted to the seat in front of the hearing impaired to pick up a reflection of subtitles projected on the rear wall of the theater. The reflection is positioned at the bottom of the user's screen view.

DVS Theatrical provides the sight-impaired with headphones. Through them, the user hears a descriptive narrative, filling in key elements of the movie that are not expressed in dialog.

The tech is available in some national chains (AMC, which has two theaters near my home, is so equipped), but scarce otherwise. DVS is also available on a number of network television shows in areas that carry the programming, via the SAP (Second Audio Program) feature of a stereo television. Selected films on DVD also carry DVS narrative.

For a sample of DVS, check out this Horton Hears a Who trailer.