Vt. Arts Council supports Latchis accessibility efforts

The Latchis Theatre now has available new equipment to help patrons with visual and auditory needs get the most out of their movie experience at the historic, downtown Brattleboro movie and arts venue.

The new assistive devices include goggles and individual pop-up screens that allow patrons to view closed captions. Also included are headphones which amplify and clarify sound and provide the option for patrons with visual needs to hear descriptions of the action taking place on screen.

The new equipment is part of a $26,000 technical upgrade to the theater that was funded in part by a $13,000 grant to Latchis Arts by the Vermont Arts Council through its Cultural Facilities Grant program. Latchis Arts is the non-profit organization whose mission is to take care of the Latchis Memorial Building and make it a hub of cultural and cinematic activity.

“We could not have done this without the Vermont Arts Council, and we are so grateful. We hope that this equipment makes the excitement of a night at the movies available and enjoyable for more people in our community,” said Jon Potter, executive director of Latchis Arts. “Speaking personally, my brother lost his sight, and he and his wife were able to have their first movie date in many, many years because this equipment was available in their community. I expect that experiences like that will happen here, and I look forward to hearing those stories.”

The equipment is available to movie patrons by asking Latchis Theatre staff at the concessions counter for assistance. Theatre staff have been trained in its use and are happy to assist patrons in becoming familiar with it. There is no charge to use the equipment.

The new equipment works on virtually all first-run major studio commercial movies and select offerings from smaller and independent studios.

“This new equipment is a significant improvement over what we’ve had and represents the best technology available to us right now. We anticipate that more advancements will be made in the coming years,” said Potter.

Theatre manager Darren Goldsmith said early reviews of the equipment have generally been positive.

“As with anything new, it takes some adjustment, but people who’ve used it have told me it really helps,” said Goldsmith. “It means a lot to us to have this equipment ready for our patrons.”

For more information, visit latchisarts.org or latchistheater.com. For movie listings, call 802-246-1500.