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Disabled to get access to Illinois movie theaters

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Hundreds of movie screens in Illinois will be equipped with technology to help residents with hearing and vision disabilities under a settlement announced Wednesday by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

As part of the settlement, Kansas City, Mo.-based AMC Theatres will provide personal captioning services and audio-description technology at all of its Illinois movie theaters, which include 460 movie screens. The services will be available by 2014 at nearly all theaters and at all listed showings.

Before the settlement, 21 of the 246 movie theaters in Illinois offered closed captioning and 10 offered audio description.

"With this agreement, AMC will install technology to assist people who are deaf or visually impaired," said Madigan.

The settlement is the result of concerns brought to Madigan's office by Equip for Equality, the federally funded agency that acts as an advocate for disabled residents in Illinois.

"Under the agreement, people who are deaf, hard of hearing and blind will now be able to fully enjoy going to the movies, like all other citizens of Illinois," said Amy Peterson, senior attorney for Equip for Equality.

"For the first time I get to experience what you are seeing," said Marcia Trawinski, visually impaired movie goer. "Because I am seeing it with my ears. I am seeing all the special effects."

AMC has worked with suppliers over the past several years to develop needed technology, said Noel MacDonald, an AMC Theatres vice president.

"This enhancement provides our hearing and visually impaired guests the opportunity to enjoy any movie released with assisted content that is playing at an AMC theater, the way it should be," said MacDonald.

"Now I have the opportunity to go to any movie I want at any time here," said Rachel Arfa, Equip for Equality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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