Movie Theater Accessibility Compliance

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Spilled container of movie popcorn and movie tickets.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) require that patrons have access to movies at theaters through provided caption and audio description devices. The transition period is now over and movie theaters should be in appliance and are now being held accountable. The Cinema Equipment and Supplies (CES) article, Is your Movie Theater Ready to Comply with the New ADA Rule? shares a clear definition as to what theaters are required to provide:

"The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA), Title III, outlines specific requirements for exhibiting movie theaters to facilitate communication and obligational compliance for individuals with Hearing Impairment (HI) and Vision Impairment (VI) disabilities. The final rule requires movie theaters to:

  • Provide closed captioning and audio description devices in exhibiting theaters, at a movie patron’s seat, when a digital movie is produced, distributed or otherwise made with said features.
  • Requires theaters to provide notice to the public regarding the availability of these services.
  • Ensures theater staff is trained and can provide information to patrons about the use of the equipment before, during and after the showing of a digitally made film.
  • Requires movie theaters and other public accommodations, to provide effective communication narrative through the use of auxiliary aids and services. 

Read more about ADA movie Requirements here.

Note: Theaters that only show analog movies and drive-in movies are excluded, as the technology does not currently exist for these movies to support captioning and/or audio description.