Nov 302010



November 30, 2010


Kevin Knestrick , Disability Rights Advocates – 510-665-8644

Sid Wolinsky, Disability Rights Advocates – 510-665-8644

Linda Drattell, ALDA President – (VP) 510-343-6678


CHICAGO, IL  The Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) and two additional plaintiffs, ALDA members Linda Drattell and Rick Rutherford, filed a lawsuit today against Cinemark USA, Inc. in California’s Alameda Superior Court for Cinemark’s failure to provide accessibility through captioned movies.  The suit alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act.

ALDA is being represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit disability rights firm headquartered in Berkeley, California that specializes in high-impact cases on behalf of people with disabilities.

“This past summer, the nation celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet I still can’t see movies at my local Cinemark theater with my family and  friends,” said Linda Drattell, ALDA’s President.  “It’s extremely frustrating for me and for others who lost their hearing and depend primarily on visual information.”

“We just want the opportunity to go to the movies with our friends and family like everybody else,” explained Rick Rutherford who lives in El Cerrito.  “By failing to screen captioned films, movie theaters like Cinemark are denying me an experience I thoroughly enjoyed before the onset of hearing loss.”

“The theaters’ unwillingness to screen captioned films is short-sighted, particularly as the hearing loss community continues to grow,” noted Kevin Knestrick, an attorney representing the Plaintiffs. “The technology is readily available, and financially it is a drop in the bucket for theater chains like Cinemark to provide this service for men, women, and children with hearing loss.”

According to the National Association of Theater Owners, Cinemark USA, Inc. is the nation’s third largest chain in the U.S. and Canada with 3,825 screens at 293 sites as of June 24, 2010.  In 2009 movie theaters in the U.S. earned $10.6 billion at the box office.

A ruling this year in the Ninth Circuit stated that closed captioning technology is a valid “auxiliary aid” mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet Cinemark has not taken steps to provide caption accessibility to its patrons with hearing loss.

Movies in theaters can be made accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals through open, closed or individual display captions.

Open captions are ones that cannot be turned off, such as subtitles on foreign films.

Closed captions are those which, as on television, can be turned on or off like the subtitles on television, and are now available through caption projection systems and new digital movies which require no special equipment or cost.  More and more movie theaters are making the conversion to digital movie technology.

Individual captions are viewed only by people who have special equipment such as Rear Window Captioning or special glasses.

– Thanks to ALDA and VDDHH Outreach Team.