Captioning Devices Not Working at Movie Theaters

Andrea McCarren, WUSA 11:23 PM. EST November 17, 2016

GAITHERSBURG, MD (WUSA9) – Everybody loves going to the movies! But if you’re a member of the deaf or hard of hearing in the DMV area, that basic activity is often blocked by an unnecessary barrier.

Most movie theaters advertise accessible devices for their customers who are deaf and hard of hearing. But some local theaters are failing again and again to provide them.

Instead of Finding Dory at the AMC Loews Rio, the Cunninghams found another movie night ending in darkness: the captioning devices at the Gaithersburg movie theater weren’t working.

“I get really upset,” said Toni Cunningham. “I mean really, really upset.”

Two of Toni’s daughters are deaf. Two are hearing.

At the Regal Rockville Center, another letdown—the captioning devices weren’t fully charged.

“The manager came out with an attitude, and said, sorry we don’t know that they’re charged up so you won’t be able to see the whole movie,” said Toni.

Regal’s own YouTube video boasting of its cutting edge equipment for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Toni gave Regal another chance—even calling ahead to ensure those close-captioned eyeglasses would be ready for her daughter’s birthday celebration with five deaf friends.

“They drove all the way out here from Olney,” said Toni. “They weren’t working. And she had to turn around on her birthday party and come home.”

Cochlear implants help Toni’s other deaf daughter Laura, but they’re no substitute for the accessible devices.

“I need the captions to let my brain just kind of rest. And follow the movie along without having to strain and listen,” said Laura.

Laura made plans again—this time at the AMC Courthouse Plaza theater in Arlington, Va.

“Half of the captions were not showing up. And they just said oh, we’ll give you a free pass,” said Laura.

It took weeks of calls, emails and tweets to Regal Entertainment to get a response, which was “we don’t have a problem. We checked with our managers.”

AMC was slightly more responsive—and offered us a link for customers to complain when their captioning devices don’t work.

If you’re disabled and experience a barrier that keeps you from doing what the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures you can, snap a photo or send us a short video to nobarriers@wusa9.com. Be sure to include the date and location of that barrier.

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