“I wanted to be able to talk about it with them afterward,” said Moore, who is blind. “I wanted to enjoy everything they were enjoying.”
Moore did, with the help of new technology that is opening up access to the blind and hearing-impaired at select Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters.
Called the Sony Entertainment Access System, moviegoers can see captioned text on the lenses of specially designed glasses or can hear descriptive audio tracks through headphones or neck loops connected to a wireless receiver.
“There’s no doubt, our goal as long as I can remember has been to make every movie, every show time accessible and to do it in a format that would be the most user-friendly. I believe we have finally reached that stage,” said Randy Smith, Regal Entertainment senior vice president, chief administrative officer and counsel.
The system is available in 200 theaters nationwide, including Regal Riviera Stadium 8 and Pinnacle Stadium 18 & Imax in Turkey Creek. By the end of the first quarter of 2013, it will have been rolled out across the country.
It’s something Smith, whose son is deaf, has been working toward for the past 14 years.
“I work for a great company, and they understood the need. Regal is a very philanthropic company and this is along those same lines. This is not a cheap ticket for us,” he said, noting the first year’s investment is more than $12 million. “It does make a difference. It’s a great public service, and it’s one we were happy to do.”
Over the years, Regal has provided open captioning — where words are displayed on the screen for all viewers to see — during scheduled show times, but content was limited.
Regal’s efforts gained traction with the entrance of digital movie projectors. Regal partnered with Sony to design the technology, which is exclusive to Regal. Meanwhile, more studios began producing more movies with captioning content and descriptive audio.
Smith acknowledged it’s not perfect, but added, “they literally do what we want. They’re lightweight, and they have a lot of adjustments.”
At under 3 ounces, users can adjust how big the font is and where the font sits as well as the nose mount. They can be worn over eye glasses and are available for both 2D and 3D movies. More importantly, Smith said the films are available every show time, every day, including opening day.
“They’re not doing it because they have to but because they want to,” said Moore, an independent living specialist with the Disability Resource Center who presented Regal with an ADA spirit award in July. “They have gone above and beyond making your visit and participation at the movies an excellent experience.”
Said Smith, “It’s heartwarming and it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to do it. And now we’re just trying to make certain the word is out there.”