Bethesda, Md — Twenty years ago, HLAA members shaped the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules governing hearing loss acess to services and businesses by contributing their comments to the proposed regulations. 

That support was a great succes, says the HLAA, and now the organization is reaching out again. It is asking the hearing industry to comment on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) notice that it is now considering ADA changes that will require movie theater owners and operators to show captions with their films.

Specifically, the DOJ proposal is to require movie theater owners and operators to show films with closed captioning. That’s the good news. However, the DOJ’s proposal will only require close captioning in no more than 50 percent of the films shown at a theater. The proposal also gives owners and operators up to 5 years to get to the 50 percent mark.

In its call to action, the HLAA states that this proposal meets only half of the ADA’s "full and equal enjoyment" definition. That is, those who are hearing impaired should be able to attend any movie at anytime, not just half of the available screenings.

“We believe that an across the board industry cap of 50% is arbitrary and inconsistent with the law,” said the HLAA statement.

To help convince DOJ to expand its regulations to 100 percent of screenings, the HLAA is urging the hearing community to officially answer one or more of the DOJ’s 26 questions offered in the public comment period, now in effect.

The entire document with all the questions can be accessed at The HLAA suggests that at a minimum, participants should respond to DOJ Question #1, which specifically deals with the 50 percent cap.

HLAA further advises:

  • State the question(s) you are responding to. You can focus all your comments on question #1 or add more.
  • State why you are interested in responding. For example, that you have a hearing loss and cannot attend movies without effective closed captioning.
  • State what you want to see: 100 percent captions, 5 years or less, and implentation no later than January 2016.
  • State how lack of captions has impacted you.
  • State why you think 100 percent captioning is needed.

HLAA has also provided a sample letter (PDF download) that you can adapt and mail or email.

Comments sent by US mail must be postmarked and electronic comments must be transmitted on or before January 24, 2011.

SOURCE: The Hearing Loss Association of America