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DOJ/CRT RIN: 1190-AA63 Publication ID: Fall 2014 
Title: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Movie Captioning and Audio Description 

Following its advance notice of proposed rulemaking published on July 26, 2010, the Department plans to publish a proposed rule addressing the requirements for captioning and video description of movies exhibited in movie theatres under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodation (private entities whose operations affect commerce and that fall into one of twelve categories listed in the ADA). 42 U.S.C. 12181-12189. Title III makes it unlawful for places of public accommodation, such as movie theaters, to discriminate against individuals with disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation (42 U.S.C. 12182[a]). Moreover, title III prohibits places of public accommodation from affording an unequal or lesser service to individuals or classes of individuals with disabilities than is offered to other individuals (42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(1)(A)(ii)). Title III requires places of public accommodation to take "such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, such as captioning and video description, unless the entity can demonstrate that taking such steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation being offered or would result in an undue burden," (42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii)).

Agency: Department of Justice(DOJ)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 28 CFR 36   
Legal Authority: 42 USC 12101, et seq   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

A significant-and increasing-proportion of Americans have hearing or vision disabilities that prevent them from fully and effectively understanding movies without captioning or audio description. For persons with hearing and vision disabilities, the unavailability of captioned or audio-described movies inhibits their ability to socialize and fully take part in family outings and deprives them of the opportunity to meaningfully participate in an important aspect of American culture. Many individuals with hearing or vision disabilities who commented on the Department's 2010 ANPRM remarked that they have not been able to enjoy a commercial movie unless they watched it on TV, or that when they took their children to the movies they could not understand what they were seeing or discuss what was happening with their children. Today, more and more movies are produced with captions and audio description. However, despite the underlying ADA obligation, the advancement of digital technology and the availability of captioned and audio-described films, many movie theaters are still not exhibiting captioned or audio-described movies, and when they do exhibit them, they are only for a few showings of a movie, and usually at off-times. Recently, a number of theater companies have committed to provide greater availability of captioning and audio description. In some cases, these have been nationwide commitments; in other cases it has only been in a particular State or locality. A uniform Federal ADA requirement for captioning and audio description is necessary to ensure that access to movies for persons with hearing and vision disabilities is not dictated by the individual's residence or the presence of litigation in their locality. In addition, the movie theater industry is in the process of converting its movie screens to use digital technology, and the Department believes that it will be extremely helpful to provide timely guidance on the ADA requirements for captioning and audio description so that the industry may factor this into its conversion efforts and minimize costs.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The summary of the legal basis of authority for this regulation is set forth above in the abstract.


The Department will consider any public comments that propose achievable alternatives that will still accomplish the goal of providing access to movies for persons with hearing and vision disabilities. However, the Department believes that the baseline alternative of not providing such access would be inconsistent with the provisions of title III of the ADA.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The Department's preliminary analysis indicates that the proposed rule would not be "economically significant," that is, that the rule will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million, or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, the environment, public health or safety or State, local or tribal governments or communities. In the NPRM, the Department will be soliciting public comment in response to its preliminary analysis regarding the costs imposed by the rule.


Without the proposed changes to the Department's title III regulation, persons with hearing and vision disabilities will continue to be denied access to movies shown in movie theaters and movie theater owners and operators will not understand what they are required to do in order to provide auxiliary aids and services to patrons with hearing and vision disabilities.

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  07/26/2010  75 FR 43467   
ANPRM Comment Period End  01/24/2011    
NPRM  08/01/2014  79 FR 44975   
NPRM Comment Period Extended  09/08/2014  79 FR 53146   
NPRM Comment Period End  09/30/2014 
NPRM Extended Comment Period End  12/01/2014 
Final Action  09/00/2015 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Rebecca B. Bond
Department of Justice
Legal Activities
Disability Rights Section, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20530
Phone:800 514-0301