Banner Day in Court for People with Hearing Loss

You should just go read this now, but in case you don’t here are some highlights:

A federal appeals court in San Francisco heard oral arguments on Jan. 13 about whether movie theaters must offer services like captioning or audio descriptions so that those of us with sensory losses can enjoy the movies. And the arguments of one theater chain that all it needs to do is open the doors and let us in was, to put it mildly, poorly received.

As you may know, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office sued the Harkins theater chain, claiming that the business violated both ADA and Arizona state law by failing to show captioned and described movies. The AG was not suggesting that the theaters themselves had to provide the captions or descriptions, but only that they need to install the equipment necessary to show the captions and descriptions provided by the studios.

The judges basically said flat-out that they thought the theater argument is preposterous. Alex Kozinski, the chief judge, said, “What if we took the position that this building is a building with steps, and if someone in a wheelchair wants to come in, they can find somebody to carry them?”
Kozinksi went on, “Actually, that case happened, and some lawyer argued that being able to crawl up the steps was good enough. Today, people are laughing at that argument, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years, people are laughing at your argument.”

The attorney didn’t back down. And the judges started laughing.

“Captions just let them enjoy the same movie that everybody else sees,” Kozinski said. “I don’t know why you don’t want to do this.”

And my favorite-

Kozinski went on to say that at best, it’s only a matter of time before movie theaters have to comply. “You are going to lose,” he said. “You might not even lose this case, but you will lose someday. Why don’t you get out ahead and do the right thing instead of being jerks?”


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