In 2014, Paul McCann, a DeafBlind movie enthusiast went to Cinemark theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see the movie, "Gone Girl." He asked the theater to provide him with a tactile interpreter so he could enjoy the film, but the theater denied his request.
On Friday, October 6th, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of McCann. The court concluded that tactile interpreters are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which says that public accommodations include "auxiliary aids and services" to patrons with vision, hearing and speech disabilities.
We reached out to Roberto Cabrera who is DeafBlind to get his perspective on this ruling.
Hello, I'm DeafBlind and grew up enjoying going to movie theaters. Over the years, theater screens have become bigger and bigger, including IMAX which is available today. The technology behind movie animation has improved a lot, making the action happen faster onscreen. And while that's really cool, sometimes DeafBlind moviegoers will miss out on some of the content. Now, a court in Pennsylvania has ruled that DeafBlind patrons can have access to an interpreter, including pro tactile interpreting which explains what's happening visually on screen. Now DeafBlind moviegoers can enjoy the film, and if they miss something, an interpreter is available to catch them up on all the action. That's really the best case scenario!
As of right now, all people have had access to open captions, captioning devices and captioning glasses. And now to have access to an interpreter, it's truly amazing and makes a big difference. Now we need to inform the DeafBlind community and spread the news that they're now able to see a movie with an interpreter on hand so they can enjoy the movie. That's thrilling!
Thank you, Roberto! Cinemark has since sent the case back to a federal judge to consider the argument that providing interpreters present an "undue burden" on the theater because of how costly it is. If Pennsylvania approves this ruling, this may mean that all other states in the US have to follow suit. Does your state provide captioning and tactile interpreting access?