So, last week, I was introduced to the notion of “caption glasses,” as an assistive technology to help deaf and hard-of-hearing folk to enjoy movies for their dialogue and not just for the pretty pictures. And I called the Flagship Cinemas in Waterville to ask if they had “caption glasses,” and the reply came back in the negative.
Now, I currently have Book Brain (manuscript due in oh, right close to 30 days), so I don’t have a lot of Think Power left over to consider Real Life, but it did occur to me sometime yesterday that, doggone it, hasn’t the ADA* had some kind of input here? I mean, considering the sheer number of people who are deaf or heard-of-hearing?**
I shelved that thought for Life After Book, but Irene Harrison was busy doing the legwork on a parallel track. She provided the information that the ADA required theaters with more than 50 seats to have assistive technology available, and that the government would give those theaters that installed this technology support in the form of a tax break.
Steve followed up on this for me, and came up with the Hearing Loss Association of America website (here’s the link), on which we find the following (note the date):
On June 10, 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations – Movie Theaters; Movie Captioning and Audio Description.” Six-and-a-half-years later, the DOJ has issued a Final Rule on the ANPRM.
In their Final Rule, the DOJ requires movie theaters to:
- have and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description at a movie patron’s seat whenever showing a digital movie produced, distributed, or otherwise made available
- provide notice to the public about the availability of these features, including on communications and advertisements at the box office, and other ticketing locations, on websites, mobile apps newspapers and via telephone. Third party websites are not required to provide that information.
- ensure that theater staff is available to assist patrons with the equipment before, during, and after the showing of a movie with these features.
Full article here.
So, what it looks like is that, for 6.5 years, the assistive technology rule has more or less been a guideline, and now, it is law.
In the meantime, just for fun, I have written to Flagship Cinema Corporate (owner-operators of theaters in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Florida), inquiring into the existence of assistive hearing devices in their Waterville location, and seeking guidance on how to ask for this device at the ticket counter.
Back to work.
*ADA = Americans with Disabilities Act
**Actually, there is a Societal Thing where we pretend that being deaf or hard-of-hearing isn’t really a disability. Insurance companies routinely pretend that hearing aids are some sort of luxury item, which you may buy out of your funds, or do without; and my insurance carrier, at least, has stopped covering hearing tests. Of course, my insurance carrier has stopped covering treatment for depression, but only for women. Because, my ghod! If we covered all the depressed women or hearing impaired people in the world, the stockholders wouldn’t get their profit. But I digress.