Lawsuit Claims AMC Theatres Makes It Hard For Blind People To Enjoy Going To The Movies

A trip to the movies can be a fun family outing, but if you miss part of the on-screen action, it’s a lot harder to enjoy the experience. That’s why a San Francisco man is suing AMC Theatres — he’s blind, and claims that the chain routinely deprives him of enjoying the movies he goes to with his family by providing shoddy audio-description services.

Despite the fact that AMC Theatres is one of the nation’s top movie theater chains, it’s doing blind patrons no favors when it comes to audio equipment routinely, according to the man, the California Council of the Blind and others in a federal class action filed Tuesday, reported by Courthouse News.

“AMC supposedly offers audio-description devices to blind customers. However, AMC rarely provides appropriate, functioning audio-description devices to blind customers,” the man says in the lawsuit. “Instead, AMC routinely provides the wrong technology when customers request audio description devices, or audio transcription devices that are nonfunctioning or so malfunctioning that they are useless to blind customers.”

He and others say the devices will often be unavailable, drained of battery, or will play the entirely wrong audio descriptions, among other issues. That’s not all — the lawsuit claims AMC staff will sometimes hand them devices intended for deaf people.

“If a blind customer gets the correct device at all, it is usually because AMC staff sought assistance from management, which takes additional time” and makes them late for the opening scenes, he says in the complaint.

Going to the movies without these devices — which are headsets that blind people use to listen to synchronized audio descriptions containing narration and visual elements of what is being shown on the screen — leaves blind people out of the loop. Therefore, audio description is “essential for blind viewers to understand movies,” the complaint says.

The plaintiff says AMC owns and operates more than 300 movies theaters across the country,and also has the top share the nation’s three largest local movie theater markets. And yet, despite providing entertainment to millions, “AMC fails to provide equivalent services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired,” his lawsuit states.

The lawsuit is seeking a court declaration that AMC discriminates against blind and visually impaired movie patrons, an order that AMC ensures its equipment works properly, and attorney’s fees and legal costs for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We’ve reached out to AMC Theatres for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

AMC No Help to Blind Moviegoers, Class Says [Courthouse News]