Open Captions in Theaters are Back! And Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Update

Theaters are opening for live audiences again! The first open captioned performances in our area start this weekend.  There is also good news to share on the OTC hearing aids.

Boston Opera House OC Performances

The following performances have been identified as OC:

  • Hadestown: 11/6/2021
  • Pretty Woman: 1/22/2022
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: 4/9/2022
  • Ain’t Too Proud: 4/23/2022
  • Wicked: 6/11/2022
  • Anastasia: 8/20/2022
  • Hamilton: 1/21/2023 and 3/4/2023

The times and links for tickets are on their website:

  Trinity Rep OC Performances

The following performances have been identified as OC:


  • A Christmas Carol: 11/7, 12/1, 12/2, 12/3, 12/4, and 12/5/2021
  • Tiny Beautiful Things: 1/16, 2/9, 2/10, 2/11, 2/12, and 2/13/2022
  • Gem of the Ocean: 2/27, 3/23, 3/24, 3/25, 3/26, and 3/27/2022
  • Sueno: 4/10, 5/4, 5/5, 5/6, 5/7, and 5/8/2022
  • Fairview: 5/22, 6/15, 6/16, 6/17, 6/18, and 6/19/2022

Trinity Rep also has new assistive listening devices.  They offer the RF option where you borrow the new receiver with a headphone or neck loop.  They also offer a new option using the Listen Everywhere app on your own smartphone.  You can see more information about this and the times for the OC performances on their website:

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids

The FDA released proposed rules for over-the-counter hearing aids that made national news.  The idea is that people with a mild-to-moderate loss can purchase a low-cost hearing aid that safely amplifies sound with simple tuning across the frequencies.  HLAA supports this effort to improve access to hearing aids and encourage technology innovation that will lower the cost of hearing aids.  There is more information on this ruling and background information on OTC hearing aids on the HLAA website:

Zoom Makes ASR Captioning Free for People with Hearing Loss

Good News! Thanks to a campaign spearheaded by HLAA’s  Shari Eberts, Zoom has agreed to provide captions on free accounts.  [Below is from Shari’s blog, “Living With Hearing Loss” From ]

Success! Zoom has heard our community’s voice!

Zoom just announced it will provide its high-quality ASR captions (Live Transcript) FREE for people with hearing loss, as well as other groups who require this feature for accessibility reasons. Click here to request access. This feature will be rolled out to all free accounts by Fall 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have been asking Zoom to do just this. We explained that captions are our ramps and that we should not be forced to pay for the accessibility feature that we need to communicate well on Zoom. They have heeded our call.

Advocacy works!

Thank you to NPR (NPR interview) and the Washington Post (op-ed) for helping to highlight this issue. Our petition Provide Free Captions for People with Hearing Loss on Video Conferencing Platforms garnered 80,000 signatures. I am so proud of the way our hearing loss community has come together to advocate for our needs.

Read Zoom’s Update on Live Transcription for Free Accounts for more details. The link for early access for people with hearing loss is here.

Thank you Zoom for recognizing the needs of people with hearing loss and for taking steps to make your platform more accessible at no additional cost.

What’s Next?

This update will provide captions for calls that we initiate, but an equally challenging problem for people with hearing loss is the lack of captions on Zoom calls and webinars that we do not host. Currently, it is a convoluted process. You must request that the host turn on Live Transcript. Often this requires that someone in the IT department of the company/school/non-profit enable the Live Transcript setting in the organization’s main Zoom account. In a large company or university, it can be difficult to determine who that might be, even for those within the organization. In my experience, the meeting host often gives up in frustration, leaving us without the captions we need.

I have made Zoom aware of this issue and they are considering enabling Live Transcript to default to ON for all video calls, so the captions are always available to us if we need them. All we would need to do is turn them on from our screen — empowering us to control our accessibility, rather than relying on someone else to provide it. The timing for this is unclear.

There is still much work to do on making all video communications across all platforms, formats and delivery methods more accessible for people with hearing loss. But here, we have taken an important first step. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who raised their voice to advocate for our needs.

Readers, will you sign up for free ASR captions on your Zoom account?