Seyfarth Synopsis: Here’s our take on Sunday’s 60 Minutes episode on “drive-by” abusive ADA Title III lawsuits and the legislative efforts to address them.
60 Minutes aired a segment about ADA Title III “drive-by” lawsuits on Sunday, December 4, which focused on a few of the ways in which the law has been misused by some plaintiffs and their attorneys to make money. Some disability rights advocates have called the piece a “hit job” on the ADA and “propaganda” for the future Trump Administration’s perceived anti-civil rights agenda. Others say that by highlighting only the “bad apples,” the story “mischaracterized the ADA as an instrument of opportunism” instead of the force that has opened doors for millions of Americans. These are all fair points, but – as these advocates’ blogs demonstrate – the 60 Minutes piece does highlight the need for targeted changes which would mitigate the abusive litigation and restore confidence in a very important law.
When Anderson Cooper interviewed our ADA Title III Team Leader, Minh Vu, for the story, it seemed that the piece would seek to uncover the reasons behind the huge year-over-year increase in ADA Title III lawsuits (which we have reported on this blog); whether the cases are legitimate; and whether reform to the law might stop its abuse by a small cadre of plaintiffs’ lawyers and their serial plaintiffs. The final story was much narrower and focused on a small hotel owner who was sued for not having a pool lift by a plaintiff who had never been to his hotel; a California attorney who made millions filing over 2000 lawsuits under the ADA and state law; and two disabled plaintiffs who claim they were recruited by and then deceived by their attorneys who filed and settled lawsuits on their behalf without their knowledge. The segment also highlighted the fact that the ADA regulations contain “thousands” of detailed requirements for public accommodations facilities that small businesses are not likely to know.
Interestingly, the story did not highlight the most notable “serial plaintiff” stories of the year – there was no mention of the Arizona lawyer who filed thousands of lawsuits this year alone, prompting that state’s Attorney General to intervene and file a motion to dismiss over 1,000 of those cases; nor the Florida serial plaintiff who was exposed as not being disabled; nor the hundreds of demand letters and lawsuits that have been sent and filed by various law firms this year alleging violations of the ADA due to inaccessible websites.
The subject of these so-called “drive-by” lawsuits elicits strong reactions from businesses, especially small ones, because they are brought by people whose stated interest in patronizing the defendant businesses are highly suspect. Businesses that are sued could try to get the case dismissed on the theory that the plaintiff has no genuine interest in returning to the business in the future, but filing a motion to dismiss can cost tens of thousands of dollars. For this reason, most businesses choose to settle the lawsuits for a lesser amount. Small business owners that do not have the resources to fight the suits are the most vulnerable targets.
Federal and state lawmakers have often pursued reform legislation. For example, in May and September 2016, California’s Governor signed into law two such bills. On the federal level, in 2015, companion bills called the ADA Education and Reform Act were introduced in the House and Senate. The bills require plaintiffs who want to bring lawsuits about architectural barriers to first provide 60-days’ notice to the business owner about the specific barriers that they allege violate the ADA. No lawsuit can be brought if the business takes action to address the barriers. The bill also directs the Judicial Conference of the United States to develop a model program to promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve such claims. While opponents of the bill may say that these businesses have had notice of their obligations for over 25 years and should not be getting more notice, the reality is that most business owners are not aware of the very detailed requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. A 60-day notice provision would address easily fixed issues such as sink pipes that are not protected, incorrect door hardware, and bathroom dispensers and mirrors that are off by a few inches. The notice requirement would not prevent lawsuits about more serious barriers which could not be addressed in that period of time.
The ADA Reform Act may well get a boost of momentum from the 60 Minutes story, particularly in a Trump administration.
Ahead of Valegro’s retirement at Olympia later this month, H&H caught up with his rider Charlotte Dujardin at home. While she won’t be competing her wonder horse again, she has a number of stars waiting in the wings.
Here are four of the up-and-coming horses the double Olympic champion is most excited about.
Found in a point-to-point yard by Carl Hester’s former groom Caroline Dawson, this six-year-old mare by Benetton Dream x Dimaggio is the current elementary national champion.
“After Caroline spotted her, we sent Amy [Woodhead] over to try her and then bought her very cheap,” explains Charlotte.
“The day that she was going to be picked up, Carl’s lorry wouldn’t start so he took mine which had a huge picture of me on the side, which is how they realised where the horse was going.
“She’s been a really cool buy, and although she was a bit of a late starter, she has caught up in her training. She’s unbelievably talented in the piaffe.
“It’s a really cool story and I hope people find it inspirational — buying horses isn’t all about having heaps of money.”
River Rise Escala
Charlotte took over the ride from Sadie Smith, who had done all the mare’s early years education.
“It was quite a shock because Sadie had made it look so easy,” remembers Charlotte of the powerful Lord Leatherdale x Ferro mare. “She did an amazing job with her.
“I’m now working on getting her a bit hotter off my leg and everyone trains differently, so we’re still figuring each other out. Riding her was definitely harder than it looked.
“She’s now got the pirouettes and piaffe work and I’d like to get her out competing in 2017. I’m just trying to remould her a bit, but she’s super talented.”
Bought as an unbacked two-year-old from Brightwells auction for £33,000, this Vivaldi x Rubels daughter is an eye-catching dapple grey.
“I love that one,” says Charlotte of the now six-year-old. “I’ve done young horse classes with her and I think she’s a prospect for the Tokyo Olympics.”
The mare is the current medium gold national champion and also produced a colt foal by Negro in 2016.
This hot and feisty gelding by Jazz has given Charlotte a few heart-stopping moments.
“I bought him from Sandra Biddlecombe as a project,” she says. “I always wanted a Jazz, but he was wild — you couldn’t even catch him in the stable.
“We finally got him on the lunge and he started properly bucking. I’ve never seen a horse handstand like it. I wondered who on earth I’d be able to persuade to get on it.”
Cue Ryan Shannon.
“Luckily Ryan hadn’t seen what the horse was like, so he agreed to back hinm for me. En Vouge’s so hot that he holds his breath every time you touch him. Ryan got on, and apart from being crazy reactive, the horse has never put a foot wrong.
“He’s a tense, hot horse a bit like Nip Tuck and I thought he might kill me when we tried to teach him the changes. But he’s done two advanced mediums and won them both. He never runs out of fuel and he’s grand prix prospect through and through.”
Don’t miss H&H’s exclusive interview with Charlotte where she talks about having babies, why she wants a quieter year next year and why she’s still in awe of Carl in the current issue of the magazine (8 December, 2016)
A late change of pony has been announced for the Blue Chip British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Heritage M&M championships at Olympia, the London International Horse Show, next week.
Forty animals representing nine of the native breeds, including all of the Welsh sections, are through to the final on Monday, 19 December. However, Lunesdale Dixie (pictured top) is no long eligible to compete.
A statement from the BSPS said: “Lunesdale Dixie is not able to compete due to a connection with one of the judges.”
The Fell pony is produced by team Jinks and qualified at the BSPS Heritage championships in September. His ticket has passed to Waterside Black Prince, a Dales pony owned and ridden by Tarnya Shields, instead.
The judges at Olympia are Sharon Thomas and Kevin Walker (performance), plus Stephen Howard and D Price Jones (conformation).
Here is a complete list of all finalists:
- Lesley Payne’s Ambra Jacaranda, ridden by Jason Greenaway
- Tom McManus’s Drummore Prince Charming, ridden by Katie Brown
- Samantha Fowler on her own Glencarrig Marble
- The Alfords’ Nire Valley Charlie, ridden by Charlotte Alford
- Lady Huntingdon’s Slieve Bloom Jill, ridden by Hannah Horton
- Julie Robinson on her own Moorlandsdale Mia
- Tarnya Shields on her own Waterside Black Prince
- J Minns’ Greenholme Caitlin, ridden by Tamsyn Bell-Heather
- Katherine Marks on her own Hardendale Ray
- Julie Robinson’s Lunesdale Warrior Queen, ridden by Anna Metcalfe
- Jenny Crane’s Murthwaite Windrush, ridden by Stephanie Wheway
- Melanie Stanford’s Benbreac Of Croila, ridden by Matthew Cooper
- Mrs Brereton’s Dunedin Duncan, ridden by Harriet Dennison
- Tamsyn Cornall-Howe’s Ellister Islay Mariner, ridden by Sarah Field
- Edwina Warner’s Strahleven Drumochter, ridden by Clare Fitch
- Terry Pitcher’s Harveys Magic Moment, ridden by Abigail Staff
- Lucinda Stapleton’s Marleydenes Nashaal, ridden by Gemma Rees
Welsh section A
- Gemma Pallet on Broekland Allesandro
- Tonwen Hughes’s Uphill James Fox, ridden by Katy Marriott-Payne
Welsh section B
- Collette Green on her own and Kathleen Scott’s Cadlanvalley Sandpiper
- Joyce Newbery’s Cadlanvalley Mr Bojangles, ridden by Tayla Lewis
- Lucy Glover on her own Carrwood Shimmering Gold
- Danielle Garner on her own Linksbury Miss Polly
Welsh section C
- Lynn Scott’s Lynuck The Snowman, ridden by Aimee Devane
- The Halls’ Menai Thomas, ridden by Sarah Parker
- Lynette Bates’ Popsters Joe Black, ridden by Kimberley Bates
- Alys Lee’s Renvarg Robin Hood, ridden by Richard Clough
Welsh section D
- Emma Boardman on her own Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso
- Catherine Hudson on her own Gwynfaes Macsen Wledig
- Kelly Jones on her Maescrofta Don Juan
- Alice Cook on her own Maesyfellin Llew Du
- Michaela Wood on Martin Wood’s Swchyrhafod Brenin
- David Lorimer’s Trehewyd Cardi, ridden by Kayleigh Evans
- Megan Hewitt’s Dunmere Woodruff
- Debbie Barr’s Hisley Silversmith, ridden by Alice Barr
- Joyce Newbery’s Newoak Furious, ridden by Sam Roberts
- Paul Starkie’s Pumphill Bennet, ridden by Aliya Khan
- Lynda Calcutt’s Shilstone Rocks North Westerly, ridden by Chloe Chubb
- Maureen Richards’ Dunkery Wigeon, ridden by Frankie Currell
- A Stevens’ Brinleyview Cammanchee, ridden by Georgia James
Don’t miss H&H’s live coverage of the BSPS Heritage mountain and moorland championship on Monday, 19 December, starting at 9.30am. The full Olympia magazine report will be on sale Thursday 22 December.
New CCI4* dressage tests will be used in competition next season for the first time in eight years.
All four-stars have been using either the 2009 FEI CCI4* A or B test for the past eight years, with the exception of the Olympics which used a slightly shortened version of the B test.
Among the main changes in these two new 2017 tests is the introduction of flying changes from medium and extended canter.
Counter canter is completely omitted in both new tests, as is the half walk pirouette and the canter serpentines have also gone.
A new addition to the tests is a 20m canter circle allowing the horse to “stretch forward and down”.
Unsurprisingly, the new tests feature many of the same movements but in a slightly different order.
The entry in collected canter followed by halt and proceeding at collected trot remains unchanged. One of the new tests includes changing the rein in medium trot across the full long diagonal, rather than the current broken diagonal.
From there, combinations will again go into the lateral trot work, although the order in which the half-pass and shoulder-in comes is changed in one of the new tests.
Moving on to the canter work, in the new B test, competitors will have to show canter half-pass across three-quarters of the arena, as opposed to half the arena previously, but the angle is unchanged.
The A test features a change the rein from S to F in medium canter, before collected canter and a flying change at F. It also has extended canter across the M-X-K long diagonal before immediately collecting and showing a flying change.
Article continues below…
- Could another four-star event be on the cards?
- New name joins Chris Bartle to lead British eventing squad
- FEI rules updated
Meanwhile, the B test asks for flying changes while travelling straight ahead down the quarter lines directly after half-pass.
While these are the only two new international eventing tests for the 2017 season, both 2015 one-star tests have had their wording slightly tweaked.
Don’t miss next week’s issue of Horse & Hound (15 December) for reaction to the new tests.
Here are 5 example trades for discretionary swing traders.
It’s an expensive time of year for everyone, but good presents don’t necessarily need to cost the earth. Why ruin the Christmas cheer with a rather sad looking bank balance? Save the cheer, save the pennies! Here’s H&H‘s pick of some of the best gifts on the market for horsey lovers at affordable prices.
The Pony Club blue sparkly mugs
Unbreakable plastic Pony Club sparkly mugs which are Dishwasher and microwave safe, great for the yard or home
Red horse tea towel
Add a splash of colour to your kitchen with this bright and funky grey stripe linen mix tea towel featuring a red galloping horse. Complete with a sewn in hanging loop.
Horse perpetual calendar
A handcrafted wooden calendar that lets you know the day’s date forever more. Simply adjust the month and number wooden blocks to the current date. They are a useful educational tool for the young and are good for all ages
Nettex TastyLyx three pack gift set
A range of delicious, natural flavoured treats that can be used in most standard lick holders or just as a reward to show our love.
Personalised horse phone case
For both iPhone and Samsung devices and made with hard wearing metal but is still slim. Personalised with your own horse.
Horsey Hands lotion
Rich and nourishing hand cream made with apricot kernel oil and vitamin E to help hydrate and protect hard-working hands.
£10.06 for 500ml
Bossy’s Clean Cuffs
Designed to protect your shirt and jacket sleeves from getting covered in grime when getting prepared to go into the ring.
Super snug socks made from Thermolite yarn. They have ribbed legs so they maintain position, padded feet and are quick drying.
Tottie Olivia water bottle
Let everyone know that cantering is cardio with this bottle. Comes with a secure close lid and cobalt colouring.
euro-star Bay beanie
Fashionable beanie in cable stitch pattern with fake fur bobble. Great stocking filler for anyone as one size fits all.
Likit Christmas selection box
Contains Likit Snaks, Likit Treat Bars, an online competition code and gymkhana game with cut-out characters
Faux suede fingerless gloves with synthetic fur trim which are great value, perfect for
equestrian events such as point-to-points
Transform the way to hang up and release haynets. A one-handed design using magnetism to put an end to knots.
Lycra faux fur pom pom riding hat cover
Why not add some chic to someone’s equestrian outfit with one of these lycra pom pom riding hat covers. They come in a variety of colours and all pom poms are made with the finest luxury faux fur
Leather stirrup bookmark
A perfect little token gift for any horse lover, a brown leather strap which finished either end with two miniature metal stirrups
Equiline Carlisa socks
With breathability and stretch, these unisex socks concentrate on comfort and style and work well with breeches
10 hunting-themed notecards
10 fox hunting-themed notecards with envelopes. Illustrated with humorous cartoons by Bryn Parry. Ideal for thank yous, invites or short letters for people who enjoy hunting and countryside
Fergie Horse design Oilcloth makeup bag
Roomy enough to fit a full set of makeup or toiletries with a good zip and waterproof lining plus it comes gift wrapped
Cannibal Kids horse watch
This unique, sturdy, trendy kids watch is easy to read and will serve any horse-mad child well
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Silver snaffle design stock pin
A large Silver snaffle design stock pin, available with Blue, clear or pink diamante. A perfect gift for a horse lover to finish off their competition out-fit with a bit of bling
Boost your ex-racehorse’s showjumping skills and overall condition with Philip Spivey and Saracen *Promotion*
A closer take-off point and a cafeteria-style diet — that is the key advice that Sian Barton received for her ex-racehorse during the last of her Saracen Horse Feeds/H&H ex-racehorse to event horse 2016 bursary training sessions.
Sian, who completed her first CIC* on Kama Night this season, had a lesson with international showjumper Philip Spivey.
Find out what advice he has for showjumping ex-racehorses in the following video:
1. Keep your head up
“Ground pole exercises got the horse more supple and helped with straightness,” says Philip. “We also worked on Sian’s position. When she drops her head, it leads to her upper body collapsing. As soon as we straightened that out the horse jumped a lot better.”
2. Stay off the forehand
“At first the horse was a little on the forehand, so we worked at getting his hocks underneath him. Then Sian had to keep him up, not just with her hands but using her leg and seat. Then the horse was balanced around the corners rather than falling through his shoulder, so he could make a nice shape over fences.”
3. Maintain a rhythm
“As soon as Sian got Kama up and into her hand they kept a decent rhythm and jumped well,” explains Philip.
“Landing and riding away from a fence also needed work because Sian tended to let the horse collapse. Then the rhythm died, so she has to focus on maintaining the same rhythm before and after a fence, plus around the corners.”
4. Get to the best take-off spot
“Sometimes Kama gets flat over a fence and he likes to stand off, so he ends up diving at them. We placed a ground pole on either side of a fence to get him closer to it and he made a better shape.”
A cafeteria-style diet
When Saracen’s senior nutritionist Lizzie Drury last consulted with Sian, Sian decided to take Kama home and have him scoped, because he appeared to be uncomfortable in his stomach and wasn’t where expected him to be from a feeding point of view.
Find out what the scope showed and how the ex-racehorse’s diet has been adapted in the video below:
Kama was scoped eight weeks before Sian’s showjumping lesson with Philip and found to have grade four squamous gastric ulcers. A re-examination following treatment showed that the ulceration had gone.
Lizzie advises Sian that the goal now is to maximise Kama’s fibre intake to protect him against ulcers in the future.
“Rather than just give him one forage source — the 11kg haynet which you’ve already deduced he’s not eating all of — offer him forage in a cafeteria style, by splitting it into alternative forage sources,” explains Lizzie.
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“So for example a pile of one to two kilos of hay on the floor, mixed through with fibre cubes so that he forages and takes on board extra fibre.
“Then fill a large tub with a chopped forage source — so something like a lightly molassed or unmolassed chaff — and put the remaining hay in his haybar.
“You should find that he will browse between the sources and if we can increase his intake to clearing up 11kg of forage it will go a long way to prevent the ulcers coming back.”
For an individual feeding plan for your horse from the Saracen nutrition team, click here and complete the form
You might have noticed that your social media news feeds have been peppered with videos of people doing their best statue (or mannequin) impressions in recent weeks. This is all part of the worldwide Mannequin Challenge craze.
This viral movement, shared using the hashtag #MannequinChallenge, started in high schools in the United States at the beginning of November.
Of course, not to be left out of all the fun, people have managed to even get horses involved. Here’s a round-up of some of the best equestrian Mannequin Challenges that have been posted online.
There are some incredible moves in this hunting-themed video
So Yesterday whilst out hunting we had the idea of trying our very own mannequin challenge! So here she is the Carmarthenshire hunts very own mannequin…
Even the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment have had a go and it’s a great excuse to go behind the scenes with their horses
Soldiers from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment do the Mannequin Challenge, and so do their horses.
One man, many horses — this is just incredible
MANNEQUINCHALLENGE VI – Là c’est très fort ! ✒ Soutenez notre association LA RESERVE, défense et de protection du cheval en devenant membre ! http://www.la-reserve.info/devenir-membre.php ╰▶ ORIGINAL VIDEO PAGE ® Copyright Santí Serra Camps https://www.facebook.com/Santí-Serra-Camps-56552622908/
These horses know what the deal is
Mannequin challenge – equestrian style
MannequinChallengeHorses V – Les défis continus… ╰▶ Soutenez l’association LA RESERVE, défense et de protection du cheval en devenant membre ! http://www.la-reserve.info/devenir-membre.php ☛ ORIGINAL PAGE ® Copyright Manege Stal Sintels Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQi0DgGYXu6QQASrmLoQGw
We have a faller!
This is the best #MannequinChallenge we’ve seen! Sara Hartman (@JumperKrazy) and her friends at Quail Haven Farm in Vista, California NAILED IT!! Plus, see if you can spot the #RideHeelsDown “Everything Hurts” shirts! :O <3 (Y) (Featuring @kaileyylewis @ana.sofia.eq @boultbeequine @sara_hartman)
This one is a bit spooky
Mannequin challenge. Brush Creek Ranch edition.
Riding school style
Brookhouse got involved in the latest craze today the Mannequin Challenge fantastic guys well done! ! #mannequinchallenge
The Pony Club put in a great effort
Dwyfor Pony Club do the mannequin challenge!! #mannequinchallenge Dwyfor pony club host their winter league showjumping this Sunday (27th November),…
And finally one with a serious message
The BHS takes on the Mannequin Challenge, with an important message this Road Safety Week. Find out about our Dead Slow campaign: https://goo.gl/gRq1fI
DOJ Publishes Final Rule Requiring Movie Theaters Nationwide to Provide Closed Captioning and Audio Description
Seyfarth Synopsis: DOJ published regulations today requiring that movie theaters throughout the United States provide closed captioning and audio description to patrons with disabilities for digital movies distributed with these features.
Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published its final rule requiring theaters throughout the United States to provide closed captioning and audio description (if available) for movies exhibited in digital format. The new regulations will take effect on January 17, 2017.
As we covered here, DOJ issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in August of 2014, which proposed rules requiring that theaters purchase and deploy specific equipment to provide closed captions for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and audio description for patrons with visual impairments. The proposed regulations also included requirements to advertise the availability of these technologies, and have a staff member on-site to locate, operate, and troubleshoot this equipment.
The final rule adopts many of these proposals, although several were scaled back, presumably in response to public comments submitted by theater representatives, advocates and owners. DOJ estimates that complying with these regulations will nonetheless cost the industry between $88.5 and $113.4 million over the next 15 years.
We outline the key provisions below.
- Applies to All Digital (Not Analog) Movie Theaters
The new regulations apply to movies shown in digital format (i.e. images and sound captured on computer disk rather than film) and not analog format (i.e. 35 mm). Although DOJ solicited comments on whether to extend the regulations to analog movies, it deferred that issue for future rulemaking. The final rule cites statistics submitted by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) that 98 percent of indoor auditoriums in the U.S. have already been converted from analog to digital.
The final rule applies to theaters and other facilities that are used primarily to show movies for a fee. Thus, museums, hotels, cruise ships and other public accommodations that show movies to patrons, but not as a primary means of their business, are excluded.
The new regulations apply to all covered theaters, regardless of seating capacity or the number of screens. Thus, a small community theater with one or two screens will be subject to the same regulations as a megaplex with over 16 screens. The final rule does not apply to drive-ins.
- Theaters Must Have a Minimum Number of Closed Captioning Devices Based on the Number of Screens
Closed captioning devices provide written text of movie dialogue and sounds (e.g. music, sound effects, identification of which character is speaking) to an individual patron at his or her seat. Theaters must have a sufficient number of devices on hand based on the number of screens exhibiting digital movies, as opposed to total theater seating capacity as suggested in the NPRM. The requirements are as follows:
|Number of Theater Auditoriums Exhibiting Digital Movies||Minimum Required Number of Captioning Devices|
The DOJ commentary cites comments and research that the scoping proposed in the NPRM would have substantially exceeded actual demand for this equipment.
In addition, the final rule provides that theaters can utilize open captioning (where captioning can be viewed by everyone in the auditorium) as an alternative means of complying, but are not required to do so. To satisfy the requirements with open captioning, the theater must either display open captions at all showings, or activate open captions whenever they are requested by an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing before the movie starts.
- Theaters Must Have One Audio Description Device for Every Two Screens
In addition to captioning, the final rule also requires that theaters are equipped with audio description devices that provide spoken narration of key visual elements of a movie, such as the actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes and scene changes.
Theaters must have at least one audio description device for every two screens, but theaters with only one screen must have at least two devices. DOJ reduced the scoping requirement proposed in the NPRM of one audio description device per screen.
This requirement may be satisfied with existing assistive listening receivers (which amplify sound rather than narrate events that occur on-screen) that theaters are already required to provide, but only if these devices have a minimum of two channels available for sound transmission.
- Theaters Must Show Movies with Captioning and Audio Description if Available
If a theater exhibits a movie that is distributed with closed captioning and/or audio description features, then the theater must exhibit that version of the movie at all scheduled showtimes. DOJ’s commentary provides that this requirement neither prohibits theaters from exhibiting a movie not distributed with captioning or audio description, nor requires that they independently add such features.
- Closed Captioning Devices Must Satisfy Performance Criteria
The final rule adopted the performance standards for closed captioning devices proposed in the NPRM, which many industry commenters criticized as vague and subjective.
The new regulations will require that closed captioning devices must:
- Be properly maintained;
- Be easily usable by patrons;
- Be adjustable so that the captions can be viewed as if they are on or near the movie screen; and
- Provide clear, sharp images in order to ensure the readability of captions.
It is not clear what constitutes an “easily usable” device, for example, or the font size or resolution that provides sufficiently “clear, sharp images” to satisfy these requirements. These uncertainties may lead to future litigation. In its commentary, DOJ did note that performance standards for captioning devices are subject to existing regulations that permit, with respect to the maintenance of accessible features, “isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs.” 28 C.F.R. § 36.211.
- Other Technologies May be an Acceptable Substitute for Closed Captioning
Theaters may use technologies other than closed captioning, as long as the technology used provides communication that is as effective as that provided to patrons without disabilities.
- Digital Theaters Must Comply with Captioning and Audio Description Requirements by June 2, 2018
Theaters showing digital movies on December 2, 2016 must comply with the final rule’s requirement to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in such auditoriums by June 2, 2018. If a theater converts an auditorium from an analog projection system to a system that it allows it show digital movies after December 2, 2016, then it must comply with the final rule’s requirement to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in such auditoriums by December 2, 2018, or within 6 months of that auditorium’s complete installation of a digital projection system, whichever is later. DOJ ultimately rejected the aggressive, 6 month timeframe for compliance proposed in the NPRM.
- Theaters Must Have Staff On-Site Who Can Locate, Operate, and Troubleshoot Existing Assistive Equipment by January 17, 2017
At least one person (presumably an employee) who can locate, operate, and address problems with all captioning and audio description equipment must be at the theater at all times. This employee must also be able to communicate effectively with customers with disabilities regarding the uses of, and potential problems with, captioning and audio description devices. The final rule also requires that theater staff “quickly activate the equipment and any other ancillary systems,” although neither the regulation nor the commentary address what “quickly” means in this context.
DOJ rejected the suggestion from some industry commenters that the regulations should expressly provide that theaters should not be required to hire sign language interpreters to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing patrons regarding this equipment. The agency did, however, note in its commentary that effective communication concerning these devices would not require a sign language interpreter, but instead “can easily be provided through signage, instructional guides, or written notes.”
In adopting these personnel requirements, DOJ also apparently relied on comments from individuals with disabilities and advocacy groups who reported that theater staff are generally not properly trained in the use, operation and maintenance of existing assistive equipment. DOJ declined to impose an explicit employee training requirement in the final rule.
Significantly, theaters that already exhibit digital movies must comply with these requirements by the effective date of January 17, 2017.
- Theaters Must Comply with New Advertising Requirements by January 17, 2017
As with the proposed rule in the NPRM, the final rule requires that a theater’s communications and advertisements intended inform potential patrons of movie showings and times must indicate whether each movie is available with captioning and/or audio description. Although the proposed rule would have imposed this requirement on practically all forms of advertisements, the final rule applies to the box office and other ticketing locations, websites and mobile apps, newspapers and over the telephone. It does not apply to third party ticket providers or websites if they are not part of, or subject to, the control of the public accommodation.
Theaters that already provide captioning and audio description services must comply with these advertising requirements by the effective date of the regulations.
We are continuing to evaluate the final rule and its potential impact on public accommodations. It is apparent, however, that the regulations, set to take effect three days before the President-elect’s inauguration, will enhance the accessibility of moviegoing in the United States, while also imposing additional costs on the industry in the form of new equipment, employee training, advertising and future litigation.
Stay tuned for further analysis and updates on these new regulations.
Edited by Minh Vu.