PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For many people with hearing loss, going out to the movies or live performances can pose a challenge. Sometimes, those challenges may keep people from going out at all.
There is a new type of technology designed to help the hearing disabled live a life that’s still rich in sound and experience.
The new technology comes in the form of glasses and they work in an intuitive way to provide real-time captioning based on where the user is looking.
The hope is this technology will be used in many more ways.
Judy Shugarts loves going to the theater.
“I just like the energy and the connectivity of it,” she said.
However, over the years, she developed a profound type of nerve hearing loss in both ears, making it difficult to hear the stage shows she loves.
“It’s pretty hard to be out in the world without hearing,” Shugarts said.
Thanks to the new Smart Caption Glasses, she is able to enjoy those shows again.
The glasses are now offered at Malvern Theater Company People’s Light.
“People with disabilities should be valued, respected and included in society so we feel that the Smart Caption Glasses Project as being an extension of that mission,” Lisa Sonneborn from Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities said.
“It’s a godsend for people with disabilities,” Mike Miles a volunteer for the Hearing Loss Association of America said.
So how do they work? The glasses provide a synchronized transcript of the show’s dialogue and sound directly on to the lenses of the glasses.
“Put the glasses on and you see the words right there,” Shugarts said.
“You are very much engaged in the world of the play and not having to be pulled out of it. You can see what the actors are saying and you can be fully present,” said Marcie Bramucci, the director of community investment for People’s Light Marcie Bramucci.
Makers of this technology hope the glasses can be used in other ways to help people with hearing loss. It may even help those who are visually impaired and people with autism.
“We still know this is an evolving technology. So for us, we’re excited about the whole feedback that we are getting,” Bramucci said.
“It’s just going to get more and more technology to make it easier for all of us to live a more normal life,” Miles said.
The glasses are made by Epson and were developed by the National Theatre of Great Britain.
They will be free to patrons at the People’s Light Theater and can be reserved in advance of any show at People’s Light.