DOJ Rules for Movie Theater Captioning and Audio Description Take Effect

As of June 2, movie theaters showing digital movies must provide a means for delivering closed captioning and audio description per rules issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by the Department of Justice (DOJ).  

The final rules were issued in November 2016 and supplement provisions in DOJ’s ADA regulations on provision of auxiliary aids and services. Movie theaters that show digital movies equipped with closed captions and audio description must acquire and maintain equipment for displaying captions and transmitting audio description.

Closed captions are displayed individually to patrons with hearing impairments at their seats. Open captioning displayed on the movie screen is not required. Audio description provides additional narration of a movie’s visual elements to patrons with vision impairments and is typically transmitted by infrared or FM systems to wireless headsets. The rule specifies the minimum number of closed captioning and audio description devices that must be provided based on the number of auditoriums in a theater. The rule does not apply to theaters showing analog movies only, nor does it require such theaters to convert to digital projection systems. For further information, visit DOJ website or contact its ADA hotline at 800.514.0301 (voice) or 800.514.3083 (TTY).