Magazine article The Small Business Advocate

DOJ Requires Movie Theaters to Provide Access for Disabled

Magazine article The Small Business Advocate

DOJ Requires Movie Theaters to Provide Access for Disabled

Article excerpt

The Department of Justice (DOJ) finalized a rule that would require movie theaters to accommodate people with disabilities. The rule requires that movie theater auditoriums provide a minimum number of accessibility equipment such as closed movie captioning or audio description when showing digital movies. Digital theaters must comply with this rule by June 2, 2018.

DOJ has been working on this rule for six years, and released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2010 and a Proposed Rule in 2014. DOJ has worked closely with Advocacy to get small business feedback throughout the regulatory process. In Sept. 2014, Advocacy held a Small Business Roundtable attended by small theater owners and representatives from 18 states. Advocacy staff also visited multiple movie theaters speaking to owners and staff and testing accessibility equipment. Small theater owners were primarily concerned that this rule would have a significant economic impact on their businesses, particularly because it comes after most theaters have recently completed the costly renovation to digital theaters. Advocacy submitted a public comment letter recommending many small business alternatives that would minimize these compliance costs.

In its final rule, DOJ adopted many alternatives recommended by Advocacy and the small business community. For example, DOJ significantly lowered the scoping requirements, or the amount of accessibility equipment that would have to be purchased by movie theater owners. …

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