Movie Captioning Update from Alan Kutner

I’m happy to advise that after four years of discussions, the Department of Justice (DOJ), which has the responsibility for interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA) especially as it relates to hard of hearing individuals, has finally decided that if a movie is produced with captions, with rare exceptions the theater must provide appropriate equipment to display closed captions for individuals requesting them.

The DOJ makes reference to movie theaters which are converting to digital formatting and states that when the conversion takes place each movie screen must have closed captioning.

Note that nowhere is it stated that open captioning is required, however it can be used if a theater owner wishes to use it. Also the proposed rule would require movie theaters to give notice to patrons about the availability of closed-captioned movies in the same advertisements they us to inform patrons of movie showings and times. I have personally been involved with a number of these theaters which have captioning but do not advertise it in newspaper listings so I am happy to see that it is now being considered as a permanent rule.

The proposed rule will be published soon and that will start a 60 day comment period. I suspect many of us will want to forward our comments about the rule to the DOJ. We will only have 60 days to comment. Thereafter the Department of Justice will make the final determination of its rule and it should be made permanent shortly thereafter.

If you wish to read the proposed rule now, I suggest you go to www.ada.gov. For the specifics of the rule, click on the left hand column entitled “Q & A on the NRPM”.

Alan Kutner

Co-chair Arts and Entertainment Access Committee

HLAA-PA State Office