Nov 172010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     FOR INFORMATION CONTACT

November 17, 2010                                                                    COLLEEN MILLER 804-225-2042


As a result of a negotiated agreement between the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy (VOPA) and Regal Cinemas in Glen Allen and in Norfolk, people who are deaf will have full access to the opening night of a popular movie.  With the newest Harry Potter movie, history will be made.  Advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing believe that this is the first time, and the only two locations in the country, where the opening weekend of a blockbuster movie will be shown with open captions, making it available to people who are deaf.

Movie theaters have the ability to make movies available to people who are deaf, using a variety of different technologies.  However, theaters rarely do.  Typically, when they do, it is only near the end of a movie’s run.  Some of the technologies that make movies accessible to people who are deaf include “rear window” captioning, in which the dialogue of a movie is shown on a small screen in front of an individual seat.  Open captioning, where the dialogue is shown on the large screen itself, is believed to be the most appropriate method to make movies accessible to people who are deaf or heard of hearing.

Without captioning, children who are deaf or heard of hearing never get to see the popular movies that their peers see. “What it boils down to is that we never get to go to a movie as a family, and never get to see movies when they first come out,” says Deborah Nickerson, the mother of a teenager, Ronnie, who is deaf.  “Not all movies will show captions, and there are very few that do have captions that teenage boys would be interested in seeing,” she noted.

Regal Cinemas at the Virginia Center Commons in Glen Allen, Virginia, will show the movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, with open captions on Friday, opening night, and again on Sunday.  Regal Cinemas at the MacArthur Center in Norfolk has multiple showings of the movie with open captions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  “We are very pleased with the forward-thinking actions of Regal Cinemas in Glen Allen and in Norfolk,” said Colleen Miller, Director of the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy.  “We believe their leadership will establish the standard for all other movie theaters to meet.”

The theaters will also provide “descriptive audio” for guests who are blind or who have low vision.  Descriptive audio provides a real-time audio description of the action on the screen, through individual headsets.

The Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy is an independent state agency, charged with advancing the rights of people with disabilities.  VOPA has the authority, under both state and federal law, to investigate violations of the legal rights of people with disabilities and to seek all available remedies to correct those violations.  For more information, please contact VOPA at 800-552-3962 or

– Thanks to VOPA