PhotoIn a settlement with the state of Illinois, AMC Theatres will provide access to movies for consumers with both vision and hearing disabilities.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the chain will provide personal captioning services and audio-description technology for movie-goers with hearing and vision disabilities at all of its theaters and its 460 movie screens.

“This technology will allow people with disabilities to enjoy a movie right alongside their friends and families unlike ever before,” Madigan said.

By 2014, AMC movie theaters in Illinois will be equipped with captioning services and audio-description devices. The technology will be available to movie-goers at nearly any movie at an AMC theater and at all of a film’s listed showings.

In 2010, AMC settled charges with the U.S. Department of Justice that its theaters were not in compliance with the Americans for Disability Act. The suit concerned wheelchair accessability and not whether the movies were accessible for the hearing and sight impaired.

Madigan said the settlement is a significant development for people living with disabilities in Illinois. Prior to the agreement, Madigan said, only 21 out of 246 movie theaters in Illinois offered closed-captioning services and only 10 offered audio-description services.

Two-year effort

Madigan got involved two years ago when a disability rights group, Equip for Equality, brought the issue to her attention. At the time, she says, only a small fraction of movie theaters offered the technology for only a limited number of movies and usually at showings set at off hours. Whether or not it took a lot of persuading, AMC seems to be fully on board now.

“AMC is committed to providing the best possible moviegoing experience for all of our guests, which includes the conversion to digital presentation,” said Noel MacDonald, vice president of Operations at AMC Theatres. “For the past several years we’ve worked with suppliers to develop digital assistive technologies that can be implemented on a broad scale. We’re excited that this technology allows everyone to join us at an AMC theatre.”

Equip for Equality sees the agreement as a big step forward.

“Under the agreement, people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and blind will now be able to fully enjoy going to the movies, like all other citizens of Illinois,” said Amy Peterson, senior attorney for Equip for Equality.

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