The Best of Both Worlds

Shawn Jackson Deaf And Deaf Culture 0 Comments

Years ago after I lost my hearing, I couldn’t really enjoy the movies like I wanted to. Trying to follow along with stories just by visual cues was sometimes daunting, though not impossible. Coming from years of movie watching, which I loved, it was heartbreaking to no longer be able to understand what was being said. Going to the movie theater was always an adventure, but now almost became a chore to try to follow along. Scenes would sometimes fly by and I’d only get perhaps part of the gist of the story in broad strokes. I had to study the world all over again. I had to remember voices and sounds and reorient myself in how I followed a movie without sound.


Conversely, I was able to follow along with TV shows and videotapes/DVDs thanks to closed captioning which all TVs over 14-inches provided. This allowed me to use my memories and imagination to “pretend” that I could hear again. This helped me cope more effectively with not being able to hear. As a scene would unfold, I could “hear” creaking floors, footsteps, body blows, etc., thanks to the captioning.

In many movie theatres there are different types of closed captioning devices for deaf and hard of hearing people who enjoy going to the movies. Pictured is me wearing closed captioning glasses. They are provided for free at the movie theater I frequent. When I wear them, the words pop up on the glasses as the movie is playing just like they do on TV! Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks to the closed captions, I was able to was eventually follow along very well at the movie theaters. I could tell when one act ended and the second came and went. I could tell what actions affected the rest of the story and what meant what. This helped me understand complex movies like The Matrix and Lord of the Rings. Even horror movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer were no longer a barrier to my enjoyment.

My son and I when we went to see Hidden Figures this year.

It wasn’t until years later when I moved to Atlanta that I discovered there were now Closed Captioned Devices (CCD) for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing so that we could enjoy movies like everyone else. When I was finally able to peruse one of these CCDs, it was such a freeing moment. I didn’t have to imagine what was said anymore. I could enjoy the dialogue again without just being at home. I could be in the openness of a theater and enjoy what I do at home. It was the best of both worlds.


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