Friday, December 26, 2014

Deaf students in Iowa test run new movie tech

From The Des Moines Register:

During a week when “The Interview” dominated most movie-related headlines, a different film had students from three Des Moines schools talking.

Members of the Deaf Kids Club — an after-school program for deaf and hearing-impaired students from Capitol View Elementary, Hiatt Middle School and East High School — took a trip to Jordan Creek’s Century 20 theaters to see “Big Hero 6.”

Taking in an afternoon movie may not be big news for most kids, but some new technology made the experience special for club members.

Students were given devices that displayed captions to help them follow the plot, which involves a group of animated superheroes assembled to fight a masked villain. Students with cochlear implants also could use neck loops that transmit sound to the implants.

“Many of our students have actually never been to a movie before, or if they have, they haven’t had that closed-caption access,” Polly Fullbright, dean of students for the deaf and hard of hearing program, said through an interpreter.

“Movies for a long time have been a bear in the deaf community. This is pretty new technology they set up, but finally they have devices that we can access any movie (with).”

The Deaf Kids Club meets once a month after school. “It’s an opportunity for the hard-of-hearing kids to socialize and have some time with friends after school,” Fullbright said.

The students were excited by the opportunity to use the new devices.

Sembetu Dalay, a fourth-grader at Capitol View Elementary, attended a movie last summer, but she said she was unable to follow along completely because of her hearing impairments. After discovering the captioning devices — available for all films shown at the Jordan Creek theater — she’s excited to attend more movies in the future.

“Students didn’t know that they could come to any movie, at any time at this theater, and now they know this,” Fullbright said. “They know how to ask for the closed-caption device, and they know what it looks like.”

Cooper Myers, 7, of Clive, attended the movie with his mother. Molly Myers was excited for her son to have the chance to use the new technology.

“We saw this before, so it will be interesting for him to see it and have the wording there, too,” Myers said. “They’re not getting all the input that other kids are getting, and this gives them that input visually.”

The captioning devices and neck loops for cochlear implants can be requested at the Century Theater box office.

The Wynnsong 16 theaters in Johnston offers captioning devices for select movies. It’s in the process of upgrading its sound-amplification headphones for hearing-impaired people.

Fridley Theatres, which has movie houses in Ankeny, Indianola and Pleasant Hill, offers sound-amplification headphones.