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Closed-captioning glasses get big rollout to cinemas

More than 6,000 Regal cinema screens are about to become a lot friendlier to deaf and hearing-impaired moviegoers with the introduction of special closed-captioning glasses made by Sony.

Sony Access glasses
Sony Access glasses in use.
Regal Entertainment Group

Google Glass isn't the only pair of high-tech specs making a splash on the personal viewing scene. Sony Entertainment Access Glasses are about to give deaf moviegoers a way to watch first-run films with closed captions at the theater.

The glasses project closed captions at the bottom of the viewer's eyesight. The text is sent via a wireless system to a receiver that feeds the data to the glasses. Regal Cinemas also is offering an audio headset option for the blind, providing descriptive audio tracks to match what's happening on screen.

The glasses were announced last year, but they will get a major rollout to Regal Entertainment Group theaters this month after a successful test program. That means more than 6,000 screens across the country will offer the technology to deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. The system is designed to not be visible or audible to other patrons.

Regal's commitment to the technology stems from the company's chief administrative officer, Randy Smith Jr., whose son is deaf. Smith has been searching for years for a way to share the theater experience with his son and finally settled on the Sony system as the answer.

Many films are compatible with the new technology. The glasses and headsets will be available from Regal's guest services counter. Customers can locate screenings by looking for the "Accessibility Devices Available" designation while browsing showtimes online.

(Via NPR)