Descriptive Video Take One

My husband and I arrived at the theater early. We bought our tickets and requested a Descriptive Video headset for our movie, as the manager I talked to over the phone earlier that day instructed me to do.

“Do you want the glasses or the headset?” an employee asked.

“Well, I’m visually impaired. I don’t think that glasses are going to help me.”

“They put captions up as you watch the movie,” the employee said.

“Yeah, I don’t think I would be able to read that. I need something that talks to me, so I think that’s the headset.” I said, unsure what the phrase “visually impaired” meant to him.

He gathered the equipment and a manager showed me how to turn it on and adjust the volume. I thanked him and made my way to the darkened theater. I followed my husband up the stairs lit by those small floor lights. We chose a pair of cushy seats and settled in for the endless previews.

I wore the headset in anticipation of the film. Once the large brand image of the studio appeared on the screen, I inched the volume up. As the first scene of Elysium unfolded, I heard the same audio as those in the theater with me. There isn’t much to describe yet, I thought to myself.

But, as I watched the main character work in a factory and walk home through his dystopian village, I realized I was still only getting the audio that everyone else heard. Hmm.  I saw a green light on my transmitter, so that seemed to be in working order. And, the audio I did hear was the correct movie and sounded clear. I sat for another few minutes before taking off my headset.

I glanced at my husband, “I think something is wrong,” I said, gesturing to the headset that was now around my neck. “I mean, this isn’t broken, but it’s not what I was expecting.”

I watched the rest of the movie, which I enjoyed, but I confused characters and I missed a big plot element, which my husband explained to me later. This movie featured a lot of bright light in the second half so I needed to close my eyes, which further put me in the dark about the ongoing action. I appreciated the sound effects from the movie though, they kept me engaged enough to not miss everything.

As I sat in the dark theater, I decided how I was going to discuss the problem with the manager after the show. The website of the theater listed this location and film as one of the options with Descriptive Video. I felt annoyed and disappointed, but I didn’t want to let that get in the way of expressing my concerns appropriately. When the lights came up, my husband and I made our way back to the lobby and sought out the manager.

To be continued…

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. What a frustrating experience. I do sympathise. I git the descriptive earphone set up for Star Trek and loved it but I think it must depend on the movie producers and not the outlet cinemas. I am planning to go to the movies again soon and will do a p[ost if I find one with the audio descriptions. Like everything else it all depends on intelligence and imagination of sighted people. Aaagh!

    1. New Look: you are right, a production team rather than the theater is responsible for recording scripts and things. I will have updates this week on my experience. Let me know if you go to another movie and listen to the DV.

  2. Trisha says:

    How frustrating. I hope your next movie experience is better.

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