Movie theaters could soon be required to do more to accommodate people with disabilities

Theaters nationwide could soon be required to do more to accommodate those with disabilities.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice are proposing new rules that would require movie theaters to offer captioning and audio description.

Some theaters in our area already have this technology.

The Avery Theater in Garner offers devices to help people with these kinds of impairments.

“We had a young man, who I think is four now, who has cochlear implants, and the family has just moved back to town. They came the other night, and it worked very well for him,” says Jill  Blank with the Avery Theater.

Part of the proposal would require theaters to have audio description available. That technology gives those with limited sight a spoken narration of the visual elements of a film.

However there are some theaters in our area that are not completely on board with the proposed regulations.

The Lake Theater in Clear Lake does have capabilities to provide closed captioning on the movie screen, but say they’ve never had to utilize it.

According to those who run the theater, there’s really no demand for the devices.

“Over the years, we’ve never had anybody come up to us at the concession stand or ticket booth and say, “we can’t hear the movie,” so for our constituency, I don’t think we have a problem. We have a very high quality sound system that puts out good sound and it’s easy to hear,” explains Bob Sherman with the Lake Theater.

The proposal will be published soon in the Federal Register. At that point there will be a 60-day public comment period.

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