Closed Captioning in Movie Theaters

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Closed Captioning in Movie Theaters

Jul 26 2011

According to a recent posting on Hearing Loss Law/Washington State Communication Access Project (Wash-CAP):

“Washington's Law against Discrimination requires movie theaters to install equipment to show closed captions, according to a ruling issued [July 22, 2011] by a King County Superior Court judge. AMC, America's second-largest theater chain, will therefore be required to install captioning equipment once it converts its theaters to digital projection.”

John Waldo of Wash-CAP notes that Regal Cinema and Cinemark Holdings had earlier agreed to fully equip all their theaters, and have done so. After this ruling, it’s anticipated that AMC will follow suit. Thanks to Wash-CAP for their update on movie captioning:

We look forward to hearing from residents and visitors to Washington State who take advantage of the closed captioned showings in Regal, Cinemark and now AMC theaters.

In related news, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced plans to release their notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on movie captioning in October, 2011. That rulemaking will help those of us who do not live in Washington State see more closed captioned movies in theaters.

About a year ago, July, 2010, DOJ issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) on four issues, including movie captioning. In the movie captioning ANPRM, DOJ proposed capping theater owners’ responsibility to provide captioning to 50%, which would only go into effect 5 years after a final rule is issued. We disagreed. HLAA sent our comments to DOJ, noting that 50% was not enough, and 5 years after the final rule was published was not soon enough. In response to an HLAA action alert, many others also sent comments: DOJ received over 1400 comments on the issue.

Read HLAA's comments.

The step after an “Advanced Notice” is a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” at which point DOJ will again take comments from the public before the rules are final. Lainey Feingold notes in her news item “DOJ Delays Web Accessibility Regs” that the expected dates for the Notices of Proposed rulemaking were reported in DOJ’s Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda for Spring, 2011. These dates are not hard and fast, but do give us an idea about DOJ's the schedule for release of the NPRM:

  • The DOJ’s proposal about next generation 9-1-1 services has a date of September 2011 for publication of an NPRM.
  • The DOJ Equipment and Furniture ANPRM addresses a wide range of issues including the accessibility of kiosks, golf carts and medical equipment. There is now a December 2011 date for publication of the NPRM on furniture and equipment. There will then be another public comment period after that, with no prediction when a final rule will be published.
  • Web accessibility NPRM will not be out until December, 2012.

Thanks to Ms. Feingold for her report on the scheduled release of DOJ’s NPRM.