At our hotel, we were happy to discover that our room’s television had captions (see photo above). They were easily activated by a clearly marked button on the remote. It was funny to us that my son needed the captions just as much as I did. We really enjoyed watching the programs that were on in the evening. In my opinion, the British captions were better than the captions I’ve experienced at home in regards to their accuracy and timing. My English friends were surprised to hear that assessment. Of course it was based on a limited sampling of programming.
Many of the trains in London had captions posted for every announcement made on the loudspeaker including the names of stops and information about connecting trains. This was extremely helpful. I remember during my previous trips to London (even before knowing of my hearing loss) having to keep a watchful eye on the tube station map on the train car wall and a lookout for the station walls to see the names of each stop we made, always being careful to keep track of the number of remaining stops. Having the captions on the train helped me to relax and feel confident that I would disembark at the right station.
Deaf people get a discounted price for tickets to the royal palaces. Deafinitely Girly told me this so I decided to ask for the discount when we visited Hampton Court. By simply pointing to my hearing aids, I was admitted with a student priced ticket and my son as “my carer” got in free. That was great for my wallet at the ticket office, but I did find it a bit embarrassing when we were at the Maze entry and someone asked which one of us was the carer. I pointed to my son and said “He is” with a little roll of my eyes. It was ironic because inside the maze my carer took off and left me to my own devices. When he despaired of my EVER finding my way out, he did come in and find me, though, so I guess he was a good carer after all.
I flew over and returned on American Airlines. There were several movie options to watch on the personal screen attached to the back of the passenger’s seat in front of me. Unfortunately, none of them were captioned. Not even the foreign films which were all presented in English. I tried watching movies but even with the volume turned up to the max, I could not understand the dialog over the sound of the plane’s engines. Sigh…I wrote an email to American Airlines about it after I returned.
I received the following reply:
We are in receipt of your email regarding the lack of closed captioning video presentations aboard our aircraft. I must say you raise an issue to which we have given much thought.
Although we do have a few large viewing screens on some aircraft, the majority of customers viewing video presentations do so on smaller bulkhead or ceiling-mounted screens (a necessity if customers toward the front or rear of a cabin are to have any chance at comfortable viewing), as well as personal video monitors installed in individual first class seats and portable media players distributed to customers in our business and first class cabins on International and Transcon flights. While these arrangements extend our "reach" throughout the aircraft, there are obvious limitations on screen size in all these examples. Because we have limited ability from a logistical standpoint to assure that passengers requiring captioning will always be seated in a particular area of the aircraft, we would have to provide captioning on all screens. Providing legible captioning forces a reduction in picture size to unacceptably small dimensions for all passengers.
Open-captioning is another option; but because current video architecture allows only for an "all-or-nothing" system on board, we effectively return to square one. Another disadvantage to this option is that open-captioned movies are typically unavailable in such a format until three to six months after the uncaptioned version is on the market. Still another factor with captioning of any kind is the inability to provide more than one translation on international flights; we currently provide dual language audio translations in such cities.
In addition, thank you for feedback about our Customer Relations email form on AA.com. Since it's a standard form and we might need to follow up with a passenger by phone, the form is set up to require a phone number. However, if you prefer or require a response in writing, simply letting us know (as you've done) is appreciated.
We do appreciate your interest in these matters and the spirit in which you wrote. We pledge to continue our monitoring of available technology in this area and thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts.
Readers, what has been your experience with traveling with hearing loss?