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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it clear that movie theaters are a place of public accommodation and should provide the accommodations needed by people with disabilities, including people with hearing loss. Theaters are required to provide assistive listening devices and have worked to comply with that regulation for many years. However, until recently theater owners have successfully contended they were not required to provide captioned movies.

In April, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act does require movie theaters to show closed-captioned movies unless doing so would constitute an "undue burden." Then in July, 2010, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that made it clear closed captioning of movies would be considered a reasonable accommodation. At the same time, theaters had begun the process of installing digital movie systems. With the installation of digital technology, providing closed captioning in the theater becomes more affordable as well as technically achievable. We expect to see more and more captioning of movies as digital technology is rolled out in theaters across the country.



HLAA Signs Historic Agreement on Movie Captioning

Nov 21 2014

NATO panel
Panel at the table, from left: John Fithian (NATO, president & CEO); John Stanton (AG Bell, volunteer); I. King Jordan, Ph.D. (Gallaudet University, president emeritus, and ALDA); Anna Gilmore Hall (Hearing Loss Association of America, executive director); Andrew Phillips
(NAD, policy counsel); Randy Smith (Regal Entertainment Group, senior vice president,
chief administrative officer & counsel)

DOJ Postpones Deadline for Movie Captioning Comments to Dec. 1

Sep 10 2014

The proposed regulation was published in the Federal Register on August 1, 2014, and the comment period was to close on September 30, 2014; however, on September 2, 2014 the Attorney General granted a 60-day extension of the comment period and all comments are now due on December 1, 2014.

Senator Harkin’s Bills Expand Access to Captioning at the Movies and in the Air

Apr 1 2013

HLAA is thrilled to announce that Senator Tom Harkin, long time advocate for people with disabilities who was a sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and is now chairman of Senate Committee Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) introduced two bills ensuring greater access to captioning at the movies and on airlines. According to the news release issued March 13 by the HELP Committee:

200 Regal Theaters Now Fully Accessible!

Oct 15 2012

Regal Entertainment Group announced a milestone with 200 theatres nationwide now offering the Sony Entertainment Access System at theatres across the country.

Thank You, CEC Theaters!

Aug 27 2012

Movie theaters are rapidly going digital. With digital movie equipment, bringing captions to the patron’s seat is much more doable. We have reported on Regal, Cinemark and AMC rolling out their digital captioning devices. We recently learned that CEC Theaters are doing the same in the Midwest. CEC says on their website:

CEC Theatres currently operates over 120 screens in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska. With company headquarters still located in St. Cloud, MN, CEC Theatres remains a family-owned company with a commitment to bringing state-of-the-art theatre facilities to the communities it serves.

HLAA Applauds Cinemark Settlement in Arizona

Jul 23 2012

Hearing Loss Association of America is thrilled to learn Cinemark in Arizona will provide neckloops and receivers to patrons. Resulting from a lawsuit brought by the Arizona Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, this settlement agreement is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time neckloops are being provided in commercial movie theaters. However, with the 2010 ADA Standards now in place, we expect to see more theaters adopting neckoops and looping technology. We commend Cinemark for providing this access to patrons, for committing to maintaining the equipment in working order, training staff and making efforts to ensure the community knows about the availability of the neckloops in their theaters.

Regal Entertainment and Sony Bring Captioning to Movie Theaters

May 31 2012

PARK RIDGE, N.J. and KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Apr. 19, 2012 – In a joint effort to improve the entertainment experience of hearing or visually impaired audience members, Regal Entertainment Group has chosen Sony’s Entertainment Access Glasses with audio for practically all of its fully digitized theater locations across the U.S., providing an unsurpassed theater experience and more flexible options for deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired theater patrons.

Read press release.

HLAA Applauds Illinois Attorney General’s Settlement with AMC on Movie Captioning

Apr 5 2012

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced in Chicago on April 4, 2012 a “landmark settlement with Illinois’ largest movie theater operator that will provide unprecedented access for people with hearing and vision disabilities.”

Madigan said the settlement with AMC Theaters will provide personal captioning services and audio-description technology in all of its theaters and its 460 movie screens in Illinois.

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