Movie Theaters, in Michigan and Pennsylvania, were cited in separate Department of Justice’s (DOJ) discrimination lawsuits based upon the fact exhibiting venues did not provide reasonable accommodation for patrons with hearing disabilities, which according to the plaintiffs, was in direct violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). After several rounds of discussions, the DOJ, under Title III of the (ADA), ruled all exhibiting Movie Theaters must provide Closed Captioning and Audio Description to their patrons, by June 2, 2018.
1) What is the Department of Justice requiring in this rulemaking?
The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA), Title III, outlines specific requirements for exhibiting movie theaters to facilitate communication and obligational compliance for individuals with Hearing Impairment (HI) and Vision Impairment (VI) disabilities. The final rule requires movie theaters to:
- Provide closed captioning and audio description devices in exhibiting theaters, at a movie patron’s seat, when a digital movie is produced, distributed or otherwise made with said features.
- Requires theaters to provide notice to the public regarding the availability of these services.
- Ensures theater staff is trained and can provide information to patrons about the use of the equipment before, during and after the showing of a digitally made film.
- Requires movie theaters and other public accommodations, to provide effective communication narrative through the use of auxiliary aids and services.
2) Are all movie theaters required to comply with the specific requirements of this rule?
According to the ruling a movie theater is a “facility, other than a drive-in theater, that is [owned, leased or operated] by a public accommodation, [or contains] one or more auditoriums and is used, primarily, for the purpose of showing movies to the public for a fee.” Compliance to requirements of this rule, however, does not apply to a movie theater, which shows only analog movies, in all of its auditoriums. Additionally, drive-in theaters are excluded, because the technology to provide closed movie captioning and audio description, in said venues, does not currently exist.
3) Under what type of circumstance does this rule require movie theaters to provide closed movie captioning and audio description?
Whenever a movie theater exhibits a digital movie it must provide closed movie captioning and audio description. The rule requires the movie theater to exhibit a movie with closed movie captioning and audio description at all scheduled screenings – unless doing so would result in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration.
4) Does the rule interfere with a movie theater’s choice as to which movie to exhibit?
The proposed rule does not interfere with a theater owner's choices; specifically, which movies to exhibit. If a particular movie is not produced with captions or audio description; then, the proposed rule would still allow a theater to exhibit that movie. The rule does not require movie theaters to add captions or audio description to movies that are not otherwise produced or distributed with these features (e.g. analog movies).
5) What must movie theaters do to show movies with closed movie captioning and audio description?
For both closed movie captioning and audio description, movie theaters must obtain and install the equipment to transmit closed captions and audio description. The necessary equipment consists of the following two components:
- The hardware equipment transmits the closed movie captions or the audio description to movie patrons at their individual seats.
- The closed movie captioning and audio description devices must be made available to people with hearing and vision disabilities, so patrons may view the closed movie captions or hear the audio description at their individual seats.
6) How many captioning devices must a movie theater make available?
The number of captioning devices required to view a digital movie is based upon the number of auditoriums in the movie theater which show digital movies; additionally, a movie theater must provide a minimum number of fully operational captioning devices as follows:
7) How many audio description devices must a movie theater make available?
The number of audio description devices required is based upon the number of auditoriums which show digital movies. A movie theater must provide a minimum number of fully operational audio description devices, in accordance with the following table:
8) What is the Department of Justice requiring in this rulemaking?
The rule went into effect on January 17, 2017. The time for compliance with the rule’s provisions varies depending on the specific requirement or event that triggers compliance. By June 2, 2018, any movie theater showing digital movies must make available and maintain equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description at a movie patron’s seat.
9) What kind of equipment will help my Movie Theater comply with this new rule?
Dolby Digital Fidelio is a wireless audio system that delivers both Hearing Impaired (HI) for hard-of-hearing patrons, and Visually Impaired Narration (VI) for visually impaired patrons. The system includes a transmitter which integrates with your digital cinema server, a charging station with configuration tablet that allows your staff to charge and program receivers for use in any equipped auditorium.
The charging station can accommodate 10 receivers. The tablet can program receivers to provide HI on both ears, VI on both ears, or HI and VI together (one for each ear). These configurations allow you to give your guests the experience they prefer.
The Fidelio receiver can be used with the supplied plug-in headset, or patrons can use their own headset/earphones. Users control the volume on the device, allowing them to get the best experience possible.
QSC also offers a wide range of products that can help make you Movie Theater compliant with the new rule:
USL CCH-100 CaptionWear
Closed Captioning Glasses that receives captions via Infrared energy
USL CCR-100 Closed Caption Receiver
Closed Caption Device that receives and displays captions via infrared energy
USL IRH-280 Headphone Receiver
Two channel IR headphones for HI (Hearing Impaired) and VI-N (Visually Impaired Narrative) audio
USL IRH-281 Headphone Receiver
Two channel IR headphones for HI (Hearing Impaired) and VI-N (Visually Impaired Narrative) audio. Two volume controls allow user to mix HI and VI-N audio
USL UPC Series Packages
The UPC Series Assistive Listening Devices are part of an infrared system, designed to fill a lifetime void with intelligible, clear sound for the thousands of hearing impaired individuals
10) How can I obtain a copy of the Final Rule and other documents related to the rule?
The Title III, Final Rule and related documents, including the Final Regulatory Assessment and Questions and Answers about the Final Rule is available on this link
It is also available in the Federal Register’s online publication.