Audio Description in AMC Theaters
Several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (LightHouse) filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against AMC Theatres to challenge discrimination against movie-goers who are blind or low-vision. The lawsuit alleges that AMC is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit alleges that AMC movie theaters are failing to provide properly functioning audio description technology. When properly working, audio description technology enables people who are blind or low vision to participate in and enjoy the experience of going to the movies. This technology lets these movie-goers know what is happening in scenes without dialogue or scenes with significant visual elements. To use audio description at the movies, an individual wears a headset and listens to an audio description track that contains narration of the visual elements of the movie that is synchronized with the movie. Movie studios create the audio description tracks and provide them to AMC and other theaters. Without audio description, individuals who are blind or low vision watching a movie do not know what is happening in scenes without dialogue and can misinterpret the meaning of other scenes.
While AMC claims to provide audio description services at many of its theaters, AMC regularly fails to ensure the devices are properly functioning. AMC does not adequately maintain, charge, or correctly program the equipment it has. AMC has also failed to adequately train its staff to set up and troubleshoot the equipment. AMC often gives movie-goers who are blind or low vision audio description equipment that does not play any audio at all, is programmed to play audio description for the wrong movie, or that works only briefly before the battery dies. Movie-goers who are blind or low vision often miss parts of movies trying to troubleshoot this faulty equipment, or simply give up on using the malfunctioning audio description equipment.