Cinemark Theatres to install closed captioning

April 26, 2011 7:28:01 PM PDT
There's been a real breakthrough for people who are deaf or hearing impaired who wanted to go to the movies. They often can't enjoy the theater experience because they simply couldn't hear what was happening on the screen, but Cinemark Theatres is changing that.

The movies are silent for more than one million deaf or hard of hearing people in California, but now 61 Cinemark theatres in California will install closed captioning.

"I'm so excited. This is just wonderful news," said Linda Drattell.

Drattell is deaf and hasn't been able to go to theatres in years.

"I've missed all of the first run movies," said Drattell.

But that will change.

"It absolutely is a major breakthrough," said Sid Wolinsky.

Wolinsky of Berkeley's Disability Rights Advocates filed suit against Cinemark, charging the theatre company with discrimination. In a one-day negotiation, the company agreed it is time for closed captioning. The suit has been dismissed.

"Cinemark was very accommodating and willing to work with us," said Drattell.

Equipment is being installed and the cost is under $2,000 a theatre.

"It coincides with them converting to digital," said Wolinsky. "At that same time, they will implement closed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing people."

They will get a device in the lobby that will fit into a seat cup holder and captioning is transmitted to it.

Cinemark will have closed captioning in every one of their California theaters by May next year. Next up, they're going to negotiate with AMC and Regency chains. The hope is there will be closed captioning in every theatre in America. And it makes sense from a business standpoint to open up a new market.

"There is a large deaf and hard of hearing community out there that is untapped," said Drattell.

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