Not surprisingly, it is often difficult for people with hearing or vision loss to enjoy the movies.  One popular method of making movies accessible to hearing impaired people is rear window captioning.  With RWC, the movie theater receives a CD of the movie’s dialog along with the movie.  The CD is then broadcast from an LED screen in the back of the theater, and the captions are only visible to patrons who use a small plastic panel that fits in the cup holder.  For individuals with vision loss, there is a system known as Descriptive Video Service that provides narrated descriptions of visual aspects of the movie in a way that does not interfere with the audio or dialog of the movie.  However, may theaters do not offer these services, or run the movie at odd hours such as late at night.

Last April, the Ninth Circuit rendered a decision in which a movie theater chain was sued for violations of the ADA for not providing RWC or DVS.  The theater’s main defense was that providing RWC and DVS would change the content of the film, and relied on a provision stating that theaters do not need to provide open captions.  The Court noted that RWC is a closed captioning system, as the captions are only visible to those using the plastic screens.  Even more importantly, it was also pointed out that the ADA repeatedly refers to captioning, videotext displays or other effective methods of making aurally delivered material available as examples of some auxiliary aids and services that may need to be provided.

However, despite this clear ruling, it was necessary to file a class action lawsuit against the Cinemark movie chain in Alameda County, California, which is still not providing RWC or DVS.  While the installation of RWC and DVS is estimated at a one-time cost of approximately $10,000 per theater, it pales in comparison to Cinemark’s 2009 revenue: nearly two billion dollars.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 9:10 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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