AARP: Love Theater But Can’t Hear It? Four Show-stopping Solutions

Do you love the theater but rarely go because you can’t understand the dialogue or lyrics?

Fortunately there are several solutions to this problem beyond the familiar infra-red headphones that many theaters offer. And those with hearing loss can even get discount tickets to many shows.

First, about infra-red. Theaters that seat more than 50 people are required, under the ADA, to provide hearing assistance. Most offer infra-red systems. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, and can manage without a hearing aid, you use a headset with earbuds provided by the theater. Earbuds are more effective than over-the-ear headphones—though some people are squeamish about using earbuds that others have used.

If you need to wear your hearing aid, you can use over-the-ear headphones. If you need to turn the sound up, however, the noise may seep out and bother your neighbors. Also, as activist Janice Schacter Lintz points out in an article about theater access, they may also not work if you have behind the ear hearing aids.