Senator Harkin Introduces Legislation to Expand Captioning and Improve Access to Movies

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), has introduced two bills that will expand access to captioning and image narration in movie theaters and airplanes.

The Captioning and Image Narration to Enhance Movie Accessibility (CINEMA) Act would amend Title III of the ADA to require movie theater complexes of two or more theaters to make captioning and video description available for all films at all showings. Video description is a process that allows an individual who is blind or visually impaired to have access to the key visual elements of the programming by contemporaneous audio narrated descriptions of the actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes during the natural pauses in the audio portion of the programming, usually through headphones.

The Air Carrier Access Amendments Act would amend the Air Carriers Access Act to require that air carriers make captioning and video description available for visually-displayed entertainment programming – live televised events, recorded programming, and motion pictures—that is available in-flight for passengers. In instances where the programming is only available through the use of an individual touchscreen or other contact-sensitive controls, the bill would authorize the U.S. Access Board to promulgate accessibility standards so that individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or visually impaired, can operate the displays independently.

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