Living Well with Hearing Loss

Maximizing communication and improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss

My experience with assistive technology

I recently went on a trip to Los Angeles with a couple of friends for spring break. Walking around the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we decided to see a movie at the Chinese theater. As we walked up to the ticket booth I saw a sign for assistive listening technology. Although I have informed our Living Well with Hearing Loss participants as well as clinic patients about the availability of this technology in public places, I had never tried since I do not have a hearing impairment. I was curious if the devices worked and if the facility did in fact have devices available. 

I decided to give it a try and asked the employee for a device. The employee was very accommodating and immediately dialed out on his phone to request assistance. A different employee brought the device to me while I was purchasing my ticket for the movie. The device that was provided was a loop receiver with a pair of headphones. The loop receiver had the auditorium number labeled on it and was in very good condition. The employees informed me that the assistive technology would not be available for the previews but that it would work when the movie started.

I was pleasantly surprised that the looping system worked very well during the movie. Maybe I should not have been surprised since movie theaters are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but I did not know what to expect about the condition of the technology since I had not requested it before. Although I do not in fact have a hearing loss, this positive experience with assistive technology was encouraging to me. This experience gives me confidence that although not all assistive technology works properly all of the time, there are companies and organizations that are committed and willing to provide working accommodations for those who request them. 

It is my goal in the future to ask for assistive devices when they are advertised at concerts, movie theaters, auditoriums, etc to determine the quality of the accommodations that are being provided. It is the venue's responsibility to provide functioning accommodations and only the patrons who ask for devices can hold them responsible. I urge all of those with disabilities of any kind to advocate for yourself by requesting accommodations when needed and to play an active role in ensuring that adequate standards are being met.