Recently, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) determined it’s time to look again at the rules for captioning in movie theaters. DOJ has released Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and is holding a series of public hearings on the movie access, as well as three other issues.
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.
By Cheryl Heppner, 5/10/10
On May 7, 2010, the Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Memorandum Opinion and Order which could greatly improve access to movie downloads for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
In December, 2008, HLAA joined Washington State Communications Access Project (Wash CAP) and others in a "Friend of the Court" (amicus) brief for a movie captioning case that was filed in Arizona. In that amicus brief, we supported closed captioning in movie theaters as a form of accommodation that could be provided to people with hearing loss under the ADA.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled April 30, 2010 that the ADA can require movie theaters to exhibit closed-captioned movies.