We took in the Holiday Show at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia today. We’ve seen the spectacular video presentations on the 80 foot screen before, but they never cease to amaze. Today I wanted to experience the hearing assistance provisions in operation.
Captioning is provided via an iPod, the size of a typical smartphone, available at a service desk, with proper ID. There is really no dialog in the show, and the captioning is limited to commentary about the music – identify the instrument, the name of the piece of music, in a few cases the lyrics. I cannot say that this provided any real enhancement to the show – it is essentially a visual event, and either you look down at the device to read the comment and miss the action, or hold the thing high, which is fatiguing and distracting to others.
The connection to the iPod is via WiFi in the Center I assume. I asked whether this would be available on a smartphone or one’s own iPod, but staff was unable to answer this.
There is also audio description service available via a device other than an iPod. I looked at the device, but did not try it. It is provided with earbuds, not usable to anyone using hearing aids. I’d say that this is a more valuable service than the captioning, providing a very definite benefit to visually impaired visitors.
I applaud Comcast for making these services available to hearing and visually impaired persons.