Cinemark gave me the freedom to choose

When I was a child, I didn’t have a lot of options when it came to my hearing loss. I could only choose from the few analog hearing aids available. Going to see a movie in the theater was the stuff my dreams were made of. Talking on the phone was out of the question. I could only be accommodated as much as technology would allow.

Today, I get to choose. My hearing aids have gone digital, my CapTel phone gives me the freedom to chat and – at long last – my movie dreams are being fulfilled. I heard that Cinemark added a new closed captioning device called CaptiView to their Plaza location and decided to give it a try. My friend and I went to an evening showing of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We ordered our tickets and received the equipment without incident (though one of the employees didn’t seem quite sure what we were asking for… the manager came along and helped us out, though).

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture while the movie was playing, but I did snap this one after the movie was over. This is the CaptiView screen:

The screen attaches to a bendable “neck” which is connected to a solid “anchor” that fits in your cup holder. If you’ve ever used Rear Window Captioning (RWC), the general design is similar. Unlike RWC, the CaptiView system is much steadier – the screen mostly stayed in one place when I adjusted it. However, the anchor part had a hard time staying in the cup holder – I think the CaptiView could use a minor redesign so that the screen part isn’t heavier than the anchor. I ended up holding the anchor in place so I could enjoy the movie without moving the screen every few seconds.

The captions run on a different technology than RWC and do not reflect captions from a screen at the back of the theater the way that RWC does. Instead, the captions run on a “wireless band frequency” and I will tell you right now that means nothing to this former English major. 😉 What it does mean is that I did not have to sit in a specific area of the auditorium in order to reflect any captions – I got to choose where I wanted to sit!

The CaptiView screen is not very large, less than a foot wide and a few inches tall (I hope you appreciate my precise measurements there… again, former English major. I don’t speak numbers.). There are three slants that divide each line of dialogue. The CaptiView information sheet explains that this is to ensure privacy and minimize disruption for neighboring patrons. The slants did not bother me too much but because the CaptiView would tilt slowly (even while I was holding the anchor), the slants would obscure some of the text, so I would have to fidget with the screen every now and then.

The text itself was easy to read and I was able to (mostly) position the CaptiView device so that it was, from my perspective, right underneath the screen. While following the movie wasn’t quite as effortless as it would have been with open captions (seeing all the action and dialogue on the same screen), it still was a much more seamless experience than my past encounters with RWC technology. The text size was not an issue for me, but it was definitely much smaller than open captions or TV captions are. Some people may find it helpful to bring their reading glasses or be prepared to adjust the screen so that it is closer or further away.

When we dropped off the devices after the movie, I was able to chat briefly with one of the customer service representatives. She confirmed that the Plaza location has eight CaptiView devices and – my favorite part – ANY movie that is offered in digital format is available with captions (the only caveat is that 3D movies are currently not available with captions)! This means any movie, any showing (just be sure you are looking at the digital showings and not the standard format showings)… can you hear the Hallelujah Chorus right now?! Because I certainly can! 🙂

There were, however, a few downsides and some of them just boil down to my personal preference and perception. I’m not crazy about the extra work required for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to see a movie. Requesting the equipment sometimes creates an awkward exchange if the employee behind the counter isn’t sure what you’re talking about. Walking through the theater with the device and then fidgeting in my seat to adjust the screen draws a bit of attention and I’m a shy lady… so feeling a few more eyes on me is not the most comfortable experience. I found it hard to get “lost” in the movie because I kept flickering back and forth between the CaptiView and the movie screen and had to adjust it every once in a while… I had to think about what was going on in the movie AND whether or not I was getting all the information. I’m still pining for the days of open captions, but I think that the CaptiView system is a valiant effort to fill the gap between RWC and open captions.

Overall, I had a good experience with Cinemark and CaptiView and would definitely go again because I have so many more options… I’m still trying to wrap my head around any movie, any time! 🙂

If you’re interested in seeing a movie at Cinemark on the Plaza, you can check their website, give them a call at 816-756-5877 or email them at


10 thoughts on “Cinemark gave me the freedom to choose

  1. Thumbs up for taking the time to write this article. I was bored this past Friday and decided that I wanted to see a captioned film. To my amazement listed numerous (if not all) films as being captioned at a nearby Cinemark theater.

    Unfortunately, upon arriving only one cashier had access to the equipment and he was absolutely clueless on how to set it up. This also resulted in a manager having to be called and come to program the device. As soon as the manager got there, he indicated that they had been having several issues with the system (yay) and he would try his best.

    Needless to say, he never got it working, and I left the movie theater disappointed and well reminded as to why I don’t pay to go to the theaters anymore. I will give it one more shot only because I’m proud of the work that has been done to progress the accessibility of Deaf and Hard-of-hearing individuals – even if it took a landmark lawsuit.

  2. I also ran into a few minor setbacks when I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes with CaptiView. Nothing as bad as Vic’s… but I just wanted to offer some encouragement for future setbacks. We can’t give up on using these devices so quickly, namely because they are relatively new and glitches are expected. If not, then where’s the pressure to improve the devices and purchase more devices in a timely manner? In my humble opinion, lawsuits and government mandates alone aren’t sufficient enough to create the pressure needed for swift improvements. If history has been any lesson, lawsuits and mandates just creates resistance that drags out for years until someone caves in in a half-assed manner.

    I keep seeing that pattern: Deaf and HOH people make a lot of noise about accessibility, but when something is finally passed, we stop supporting it the way we used to until things get bad all over again. Repeat lawsuit cycle. Repeat. Repeat. It’s a lose-lose situation. There *also* needs to be consistent customer demand (people need to physically ask for these devices and ask for help even if they expect it not to work) AND actual usage in order for these laws to work the way they’re supposed to.

  3. Vic – bummer that you had a bad experience there. It’s so frustrating when they say they have this technology and then have “issues.” I’m all for giving them room to work out the kinks, but still… it can be a pain. I guess the only way to fix it is to come to KC and have a better experience! 😉

    Val – good points. I admit that I’m one of the easily discouraged when it comes to movie captioning, but you’re right. The more we go and support their efforts, the more likely and willing they will be to continue providing accessible movies and improve on the existing technology. Thanks for commenting!

    • If it makes you feel any better, I’m no angel either: I’m not a big hearing loss advocate and I also get discouraged easily too! But I definitely think that using CaptiView is the quickest, easiest and the cheapest way to show support for companies that do have accessible options. Maybe other companies will follow suit when they see that we will spend our dollars for better service.

    Saturday, July 23, I attended the Med-el symposium about CI’s, cochlear implants. Of course this company has the best product available. The thrust was that CI’s are the best solution out there for profoundly deaf folks which is where the VA has me classified. I thought I was just pretty bad, a nebulous description.

    On July 28 I went to the VA to get the telecoil activated on my hearing aids. The audiologist and I talked about my phone usage and to my surprise the telecoils were already active. I admitted I avoid using phones. I steer business calls to my caption phone. My recent cell phone sounds much better than I expected. Previous cells were very disappointing and I went without one for 6 years.

    When I asked the audi about CI’s she pointed out that I have 44% hearing remaining in my left ear and 65% in my right. Comprehension is poor in the best situation, person to person, but drops dramatically as any background noise rises. I knew that from trying to socialize with other seniors. Music sucks but I can follow the beat enough to dance. She made it clear that she thought a CI would be superior to my current status. They would implant the left, worst ear, first and I would wear a HA on my right. Having just been introduced to CI’s at the symposium I knew barely enough to ask some questions. My main concern is additional damage to the cochlea. I knew the electrode creates more damage upon insertion. Counter intuitive in my pea brain.

    Two years ago I read an article about a teen ager who had stem cell treatment to regenerate cilia in the cochlea. Her initial results were encouraging. I lost that site for months but found it lately.

    When I could not find that article I asked a friend for help in finding later developments in this field. Here is her reply.

    Hi, Mark,

    This is the best, most recent review article I could find.  In the reference list, you can find more sources that you could request through inter-library loan.  That way you can get journal articles without paying for them.

    Based on this article, it does not look like stem cell or gene therapies are going to be available any time soon.  The author said ‘decades’.  It may be that the therapy described in the Reuters article had short term success.  So, I guess I would go with an implant at this point.  The article didn’t say if getting an implant prohibited a change down the road.  I think no one really knows because the research is so new.

    With this input I would like to hear from those who have had CI experience and are willing to share it with me.
    Sail on or go back to port until a better method develops?

    Cautiously optimistic, Mark

  5. Pingback: Live theater captioning comes to Kansas City! | HLAA – the Kansas City Chapter

  6. Interesting that you liked the CaptiView. My husband hated it. I just saw that they have switched to the rear window system here and I got excited, thinking it would be better. Now I’m not so sure.

    We only just got movies with captions here (small city in Canada) last year, if you can believe it. We had the same experience of the staff not having a clue what we were asking for. We had to wait so long for a manager to come and talk to us, then go and get the thing, then stumble through trying to explain how it works, that we thought we would miss the beginning of the movie. And we got funny looks from other people too. But my husband’s main complaint was that he had to keep looking away from the screen to read the captions. And I thought the display was horrible, though he said that he could read it fine.

    I’m still waiting for them to get around to coming out with the glasses that everyone keeps talking about. The only problem with that is that my husband also needs reading glasses so I hope the CC glasses are made to fit over them. And that they will be adjustable to allow for differences in vision, for those who are near/far sighted.

  7. The Regal Theaters use the Sony Access glasses, and they do fit over regular glasses. A bit heavy, but I like them. As to the CaptiView device, it just needs to be positioned right to look like its at the bottom of the screen. The problem is having to find someone to get it for you, get it set up for the movie you want to watch (twice it was set to the wrong movie) and it is a bit top heavy, though it stayed in place once i got it positioned. But a huge improvement, allowing me to watch those loud movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter and still get the dialogue.

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