Cinemark and ALDA announce movie theatre accessibility for customers with hearing disabilities
Americas, May 3 2011
Cinemark, one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, today announced that it will provide a closed captioning option for people with hearing disabilities in all of its first-run theatres. Cinemark is installing captioning systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain’s conversion to an all-digital format. Installation started early this year and about half of Cinemark’s theaters in California already have captioning capability. Cinemark will be able to offer closed captioning at all of its first-run theaters by mid 2012.
Movie captions convey the dialogue, narration, musical cues, and key sound effects, speaker identification and other auditory information, in the form of written text for those viewers who have significant difficulty hearing the movie sound track. Closed captions are relayed—in sync with the movie—only to members of the audience who choose to receive them via a personal display device. The captions are not visible on the screen to the rest of the audience.
The Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), an advocacy group for those with who have lost some or all of their hearing, applauded Cinemark’s commitment. Cinemark has worked closely with ALDA in setting the time-table for installation of captioning capability in California. ALDA also agreed to dismiss a lawsuit the organization filed in late 2010 over captioning issues in Cinemark’s California theatres. They were represented by Sid Wolinsky and Kevin Knestrick of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit legal center, headquartered in Berkeley, California, and John Waldo, an attorney whose practice focuses on the needs of those with hearing disabilities.
“We are pleased with Cinemark’s support for captioning. This decision makes first-run movies available to millions of customer with hearing disabilities in California. They deserve to participate in this quintessential American experience,” said Mr. Knestrick. “We want to commend Cinemark for the prompt and cooperative way it resolved this case,” Mr. Waldo said. Linda Drattell, a plaintiff in the case, commented “I am delighted that around this time next year people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing will be able to watch first-run movies at Cinemark theaters throughout California.”
Cinemark selected the CaptiView Closed Caption Viewing System (CaptiView) from Burbank-based Doremi Cinemas LLC to transmit the closed captions to audience members who desire the assistance of captioning. CaptiView provides captioning to those who have significant difficulty hearing the movie soundtrack via an OLED display on a bendable support arm that fits into the theater seat cup holder. This device, provided to movie patrons upon request, operates on an internal wireless system and can be used in any seat in the theatre. The OLED screen provides exceptionally clear captions. The device is also equipped with a privacy visor, which ensures that the captioning has no impact on neighboring movie patrons.
“Cinemark was pleased to collaborate with ALDA,” said Michael Cavalier, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Cinemark, USA, Inc. “The conversion to digital cinema has facilitated the development of closed captioning systems like CaptiView. We now have a platform that makes full implementation of a captioning system viable. Cinemark has worked closely with our suppliers to make certain that we are providing the highest quality closed caption system,” he added. Laura Franze, a partner with the law firm of Hunton & Williams LLP, who represented Cinemark in working out the settlement with ALDA, commented “Cinemark has long recognized the importance of making the movies it exhibits accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences and has supported captioning in different forms for many years. With the conversion to digital cinema and the development of digital closed captioning systems like CaptiView, Cinemark was moving ahead to full implementation of closed captioning even before this lawsuit was filed.”
Michael Archer, Vice President of Digital Cinema at Doremi noted, “When we began the in-house design of the CaptiView product two years ago, we worked closely with Cinemark, our long-term partner, to create a viable, high-quality product that displays closed captions for digital cinema. We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with Cinemark to provide captioned movies to their patrons across the country.”
About the Association of Late-Deafened Adults
The Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) is a not-for-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois. The Association of Late Deafened Adults advocates on behalf of the 38 million Americans who have lost some or all of their hearing. For more information, please visit www.alda.org.
About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)
Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is a non-profit legal center, which for nearly twenty years, has specialized in high-impact class action litigation on behalf of people with all types of disabilities. DRA litigates nationally and has offices in Berkeley, California and New York City.