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AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

San Francisco, CA – April 28, 2017 – AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide.

Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that are available at the theatres. With audio description, people who are blind and visually-impaired can fully enjoy the important and beloved American pastime of going to the movies.

Under the agreement, AMC will require the managers and staff who are responsible for programming and handing out audio description equipment to be trained on the equipment. AMC and the plaintiffs in the case have developed staff and customer information guides to facilitate better service. AMC also will require managers to check the equipment regularly. Additionally, AMC will now offer audio description immediately before the feature movie begins, so customers can test the equipment before the feature movie begins to help ensure customers don’t miss any of the movie troubleshooting problems. In the rare event that a theater’s audio description equipment is out of service, AMC will now update theater websites to remove the audio description designation from showtimes. AMC has agreed to implement these changes in theaters nationwide.

This agreement resolves a lawsuit brought by CCB, the LightHouse, and several individuals, represented by Disability Rights Advocates and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, in 2016, alleging that audio description equipment at AMC theaters frequently malfunctioned and that AMC staff did not properly check, program, or distribute the equipment to customers. AMC has provided audio description equipment to customers for years, but some blind individuals have had difficulty accessing the service because of equipment and customer service issues.

AMC Theatres and the Plaintiffs look forward to improved access to audio description services for blind and visually-impaired persons across the country.

Plaintiff Scott Blanks commented, “This settlement marks an important step toward improving access to the movies for people who are blind or have a vision impairment. I’m looking forward to going to AMC theaters and enjoying the movies with my family when AMC makes the changes to improve reliability of audio description in its theaters.”

Cynthia Pierce, AMC Senior Vice President for Facilities, Sight and Sound for AMC commented, “AMC is pleased to have worked with these organizations and individuals to develop solutions that will help bring the joy of movies to the blind community.”

California Council of the Blind President Judy Wilkinson stated, “The California Council of the Blind applauds AMC for working with us to enhance access to the movie-going experience for people who are blind. Movies are a central pillar of modern society, and ensuring that the blind community receives access to this content is critical to ensure that people who are blind are fully integrated into society.”

Bryan Bashin, Executive Director/CEO of the LightHouse states, “Access to reliable audio description is essential to ensure that blind movie-goers are able to enjoy movies in the same way that their sighted friends and family members do. Dependable audio description levels the playing field for the blind community. The LightHouse is pleased with AMC’s commitment to providing this service to blind movie-goers. We look forward to working with AMC to ensure that all blind movie-goers have a seamless experience when utilizing audio description.

Plaintiffs’ counsel Rebecca Williford of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) explains, “We are pleased that AMC is committed to improving audio description services in its theaters. Audio description should be as reliable as any other service or technology at an AMC theater, such as a sound system or popcorn machine.”

Ernest Galvan of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, counsel for Plaintiffs, said “when effectively implemented, technology like audio description has the power to further integrate people with disabilities into their communities.  By improving access to audio description services, this agreement harnesses that potential.”

Press Contacts

Scott Blanks

Senior Director, Programs

Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org

Rebecca Williford, Disability Rights Advocates

(510) 665-8644

rwilliford@dralegal.org

Michael Nunez, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

(415) 433-6830

mnunez@rbgg.com

About the California Council of the Blind

California Council of the blind (CCB) is a non-profit membership organization composed of Californians who are blind or have low vision. CCB’s mission is to gain full independence and equality of opportunity for all blind and visually impaired Californians. To read more about CCB visit: http://www.ccbnet.org/.

About the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (the LightHouse), a San Francisco-based non-profit corporation, is California’s oldest organization serving the blind and visually impaired community. Through training, mentorship and recreation, the LightHouse is dedicated to aiding blind and visually impaired individuals in leading productive, enriching, and independent lives. For more information visit www.lighthouse-sf.org.

About Disability Rights Advocates

Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading non-profit disability rights legal centers in the nation. With offices in Berkeley and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA has successfully negotiated access improvements to many contemporary technologies, including Redbox’s self-service video rental kiosks, Scribd’s digital library, the Uber ridesharing platform, and Netflix’s video streaming and disc rental. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.

About Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP is a private law firm that specializes in complex litigation, including with respect to business disputes, employment matters, institutional reform, and civil rights.  For more information, visit www.rbgg.com/.

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Accessibility Act to Make Province More Accessible

Department of Justice
April 27, 2017

Nova Scotia has set a goal to be accessible by 2030 under the Accessibility Act, passed today, April 27.

Nova Scotia is only the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation. The passage of Bill 59 will start the process of removing barriers for persons with disabilities.

“We are proud to have worked with people with disabilities and business to take this historic step toward an accessible Nova Scotia,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. “This act commits us to a timeline to make the province an accessible place to live, work, learn and play.”

Under the act, government will work with persons with disabilities, and the public and private sectors to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia. The standards will be in the areas of goods and services, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, employment, education, and the built environment which includes buildings, rights-of-way and outdoor spaces.

The legislation puts in place a new Accessibility Advisory Board. The majority of the board’s members will be persons with disabilities. A new accessibility directorate will be responsible for supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.

While public awareness and support will be essential in encouraging compliance with the standards the act allows for penalties and, for the most serious cases, fines up to $250,000.

“We’re very pleased with the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act and commend the government for its leadership,” said Gerry Post, from the Bill 59 Alliance. “The collaborative approach taken in drafting the act has established a wonderful climate for communal partnerships, including the business community, to implement the legislation. We also thank the opposition parties for giving the government the space to engage key stakeholders and for supporting this act.”

Bill 59 was amended after witnesses appeared at the law amendments committee and staff consulted with representatives of persons with disabilities.

Government also invested $1.8 million in the 2017-18 budget to increase provincial ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and to launch a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible.

A copy of the Accessibility Act can be found at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/bills/bill_59_-_accessibility_act . Accessible versions of government information related to disability in Nova Scotia are available at https://novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility/ .

Media Contact: Sarah Gillis
Cell: 902-266-8554
Email: sarah.gillis@novascotia.ca

Original at https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20170427007

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