Recently, Adam and I went to see a movie. That is the most normal of phrases, except that I haven’t gone to see a movie in nearly five years, due to my not being able to enjoy it fully. Sure, blindness advocates will say don’t let your lack of sight keep you from seeing a movie, but in my opinion, paying $15 to sit in a theater and not exactly know what’s going on isn’t worth it. I’d rather just rent the movie when it comes out, and have Adam tell me the important visual portions of the film. And that’s where I stood for nearly half a decade.
Last year, I was doing some research about audio description for my job, and learned that some movie theaters were now offering the service. This intrigued me, but I never pursued it because I just figured it’d be a pain in the butt to even try to find a theater that offered audio description. Fast forward to last month. I started the book “Unbroken,” which is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. Around the same time I learned that the film adaptation was playing in theaters. Adam and I decided that it would be fun to read the book, and then go see the movie together.
A friend that I “met” as a result of my job (we’ve never met in person) is a real movie buff, who also happens to be blind. He is a guest blogger for visionaware.org, and recently sent me a movie review about watching Unbroken with description. Upon remembering that, I asked if he ever went into the City to see movies (he lives about ½ hour outside of NYC), and if so, which were the best theaters for audio description. He wrote back that he didn’t often go into the city, but did a little research and sent me the info for Regal Theater in Union Square. He even called ahead to make sure the movie was still playing. My friend also gave me a step by step guide to getting the correct device.
Armed with my “insider” knowledge, Adam and I went to the cinema. It was a huge place, four floors I think, with a snaking line and escalators everywhere. I had chosen to leave Jingles behind for a few hours, so it was just the two of us. When it was our turn at the counter, I asked for the device knowing that I may have to educate them on what it is, or they may have to search dusty drawers or shelves for one. To my relief, the clerk actually knew what I was talking about! She handed me a small receiver and told me how to wear it. All I had to do was give her my photo ID so they could keep track of it.
Once inside the correct theater, I turned the device on and waited. Nothing played during the commercials (which I anticipated, thanks to my friend). Then, it was time for the main feature. The movie started, and I realized the device was set for the hearing impaired, and was just playing the sound louder through the headphones. This I had also anticipated, thanks to my friend. I told Adam, who went out to the lobby to find someone to help him switch the device from “H” to “V.” Adam returned a few minutes later, and voila! The device was perfectly synchronized to the movie with audio description.
I didn’t miss a detail. I knew exactly what was going on, and didn’t have to ask Adam anything. I know I enjoyed the movie as fully as Adam did, and it was so easy! While the movie was not nearly as good as the book, the description was everything I had hoped, and more. I am thrilled that movies are once again fully accessible to me, and can’t wait to see my next film!
Kudos to Regal Theater for making my experience so easy! I’d recommend their Union Square location for anyone who wants to see a movie with description.