Audio Description in AMC Theaters
AMC has agreed to improve audio description service in its theaters nationwide, after several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind, and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (LightHouse) brought a case against the theater chain.
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.
Plaintiffs, represented by Disability Rights Advocates and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP, brought suit in 2016 after blind individuals throughout the country reported frequent equipment failures and incorrect device set-up at AMC theaters. Although AMC had audio description equipment in most of its theaters, service was unreliable and many individuals went to enjoy a movie only to find that the audio description device that AMC gave them did not work when the movie began.
Under the settlement, AMC will ensure that audio description is available for its blind and visually-impaired customers. AMC will require all staff who work with audio description to be trained on how to maintain, test, and program the equipment. AMC staff will regularly check all components of the audio description system to make sure that it is working. Customers will have the opportunity to confirm that their devices are working before the start of the show, because AMC has agreed to play audio description during part of the pre-show content. AMC will provide guides about audio description to staff and customers, and will train all staff on how to interact with blind persons. In the rare event of an equipment failure, AMC theaters will update their websites to show that audio description is not available. AMC will also appoint a staff member to review and respond to accessibility complaints that customers submit to the corporate office. The LightHouse will coordinate testing of AMC’s audio description over the next two years to check whether audio description at AMC theaters is sufficiently improving.
AMC’s renewed commitment to providing audio description will greatly improve movie-going for AMC customers around the country who rely on audio description.