Another cinema access decision in the USA

Monday, 10 May 2010 13:49pm

A Washington State court has now added a decision to a growing number confirming that the provision of captioned access to movies is required under disability regulations.  In this case the Washington State Communications Access Project had challenged the cinemas in the court to provide “same service” to hearing impaired patrons as others under State disability access laws. 

In the context of the decision, the cinemas (Regal, AMC, Cinemark, Silver, Lincoln Square) argued that they were providing the same service to all patrons. The court decision was that to do so, they had to make “reasonable accommodations” which could include open or closed captioning (but didn’t discount other solutions). A trial of technologies will take place in mid-May to determine the best solution.

In isolation this decision, which can be read on the Hearing Loss Law website, only applies to Washington State, but it shows a growing trend of using the courts to develop precedent and determinations about access against the same companies (i.e. major national cinema chains) to reinforce that captioning needs to be provided. This comes soon after the Arkansas appeal decision which covered a similar issue but took a different approach looking at the Federal American with Disabilities Act. This decision also covers Washington State as one of the states in the appeals circuit.


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