Three Common Captioning Options & ASL Movie Theater Related Signs

Going to the movie theaters is a fun outing that many families enjoy, but how does it work when you have a deaf family member? What options are there? How do you find out what’s available so that everyone can sit back and enjoy the show?


Did you know that movie theaters are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing individuals?


Let’s talk about some of the options out there. The main ones that you will typically see are CaptiView, Access Glasses, and open captions. Let’s quickly cover each one…



According to Dolby’s website the Dolby® CaptiView is a personal in-theatre closed captioning system. Closed Captions are transmitted to a CaptiView receiver over wireless frequencies. The device consists of a small display on a bendable support arm that fits into a theater seat cup holder.


Access Glasses

Sony’s website states that with their unique holographic technology, closed caption text seemingly floats in the air, at a comfortable distance from a viewer wearing the see-through Captioning Glasses, and overlaid on the cinema screen picture.


Open Captions

When watching a film with open captioning the words are directly on the movie screen. The captions are part of the movie itself and cannot be turned off.

Dacia's Opinion

Dacia here – from a Deaf person’s perspective movie theaters can be a very frustrating experience. When you’re actually trying to enjoy a movie many “accessible” devices can make it hard to do so.


In my area the most common captioning device is the CaptiView, and I definitely don’t love it. It’s a struggle to get it to fit correctly in the cup holder and adjusted to view at the right angle. Often, when I’m finally able to get it in the correct position to view it and the screen, it slowly starts to tip over or sag. There have been multiple times that the device simply stops working mid movie, the words start getting jumbled, or the timing is off. I end up having to leave the theater to find an employee to help reset the device, which then means i’ve missed a big chunk of a movie I was looking forward to watching. Also, it’s very difficult and tiring to scan the words and watch the movie since one is close and the other is far away. I end up missing parts of the movie while i’m trying to keep up with what is being said.


I haven’t tried Access Glasses but I have many Deaf friends that have. I often hear how annoying they are because they feel heavy on your face and can slide down your nose. Many people have expressed struggles with wearing Access Glasses with their regular glasses as well. I have heard that it also causes eye strain as well.


The best option by far is open captions. It’s much more enjoyable when watching a movie at the theaters to have the words directly on the screen without having to fumble around with a device, or struggle with viewing the captions up close while the movie is much further away. Unfortunately, open captions aren’t often provided. My local movie theater only offers one movie showing per week with open captioning, while many others don’t offer it at all.

What can you do?

We encourage you to check to see if your local movie theater offers showings with open captions, and if they do give them a try! The more people who attend these showings, and voice support for them, the more theaters will listen and increase the number offered.


If you’d like to check out what type of assistive devices your theater offers, you can check out the links below to two of the most widely known theaters in the US.





Now let’s get on to learning some signs so you’ll be ready next time you venture to the movie theaters!

Movie Theater




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