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Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative

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Volume 12, No. 2, Spring 2004

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For Many, AT Brings Enjoyment Back to the Theatres

Eden Melmed, AT Specialist, New Castle County ATRC

If you or someone you know no longer goes to the theatre because of sensory difficulties, there are products you should know about.

Need help hearing?

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are amplification systems designed to help people hear better in a variety of difficult listening situations, such as in a theatre or a large classroom. ALDs do this by increasing the volume of the desired sound without increasing the loudness of background noises. ALDs are available, free of charge, at many theatres.

The difference between an ALD and a hearing aid

A hearing aid and an ALD differ from each other based on the location of each device's microphone. In a hearing aid, the microphone is incorporated with both the amplifier and the loudspeaker in one component, which is placed in the user's ear. With an ALD, the microphone is a separate component, which is placed at the source of the sound, rather than in the user's ear, thus helping to reduce the background noise.

At the movies

Many theatres use an infrared amplification system to help those with hearing difficulties enjoy the movies. Infrared systems work by transmitting sounds via invisible light beams to the receiver, worn by the user. Since the receiver must be within the direct line of sight of the light beam from the transmitter, the sound will not "spill over" to the next room. This makes it ideal for simultaneous use in adjacent theatres.

The following is a list of some local theatres that provide ALDs for patrons who are hard of hearing:

Movie Theatres

Performing Arts Theatres

Would closed captioning or audio description help you?

WGBH, Boston's public broadcaster, has developed a Motion Picture Access (MoPix) System which uses closed captioning and descriptive narrative formats to improve movie accessibility for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. More and more first run movies are now being produced with these assistive features.

MoPix has two components:

While there are a few theatres in New Jersey, Maryland, and the Philadelphia-area that have the MoPix System, MoPix has not been installed in any Delaware theatres…yet. To see a complete listing of available movies and theatres that employ the MoPix System, visit If you would like to see MoPix in Delaware, contact your local cinema or one of the trade organizations listed below.

National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)
(202) 962-0054

Motion Picture Association of America
(818) 995-6600

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