Bow Tie Cinemas sued for lacking access for deaf and hard of hearing movie patrons
Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities,
the National Association of the Deaf,
and McCarter & English LLP
file suit on behalf of The Connecticut Association of the Deaf and individual members
Hartford, CT (July 30, 2013) — The Connecticut Association of the Deaf (CAD) announced that it has taken action in Federal Court today against Bow Tie Cinemas for failing to provide access for deaf and hard of hearing patrons. CAD brings claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on disability and requires reasonable efforts to make services accessible. Deaf people who attempted to go to Bow Tie theaters in Hartford and West Hartford were told that the captioning devices that make the movies accessible to deaf patrons were either unavailable or did not work.
For decades, deaf movie-goers were limited to a small selection of movies that were modified to display open captions – text that appears at the bottom of the screen. However, few first run movies were captioned, or they were shown at odd hours because theater operators maintained that open captioned movies would not attract general audiences. However, new technology allows captions to be displayed on the screen, or electronically transmitted to small devices – such as glasses that project captions or to devices that deaf movie-goers place in cup holders. This technology ensures that there is no reason to deprive deaf patrons of equal access to the movie going experience.
“We are tired of waiting,” said Harvey Corson, Ed.D., President of CAD. “All we want is to be able to go to the movies with our friends and family members like other Americans. The technology exists. They just need to make it available, and to make sure their employees know how to turn it on.”
Plaintiffs are represented by the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, the National Association of the Deaf, and McCarter & English LLP on a pro bono basis.
“The lack of access is particularly troubling given that the American School for the Deaf is a mile from the Blue Back Square theater. There are 70,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in Hartford County – who are being shut out of the movie going experience,” said Catherine Mohan, a partner with McCarter & English.
CAD is an advocacy organization devoted to the full inclusion and civil rights for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Most of its members and all of its officers are deaf. The suit also names as individual plaintiffs Corson and three other Association members.
The National Association of the Deaf was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing Americans. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.
Contact: Rhonda Walker/Rubenstein Associates
rwalker (at) rubenstein (dot) com