Courts Rule In Favor Of Blind And Deaf Man Who Sued Plano-Based Cinemark Theaters For Not Providing A Tactile Interpreter

A court has ruled that movie theaters must provide accommodations for its patrons that are both deaf and blind.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Paul McGann, a blind and deaf movie enthusiast who was denied access to a tactile interpreter while trying to see a screening of the 2014 film Gone Girl at the Plano-based theater chain, Cinemark.  The theater denied his request, and stated they had never received such a request before.

However, the courts ruled that these tactile interpreters are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Carol A. Horowitz, managing attorney of Disability Rights Pennsylvania, which filed suit on McGann’s behalf, explained, “It would be impossible for a deaf-blind person to experience the movie and understand the content without the provision of tactile interpretation.”  Tactile interpretation involves placing a blind and deaf person’s hands over those of an interpreter, who uses sign language to describe the movie’s action, dialogue and even the audience response.

Despite the ruling, Cinemark can still argue though, that providing tactile interpreters, which can cost up to $200 for each showing, present an “undue burden,” an exception to the disability law that takes into account the cost of the accommodation and the business’s ability to pay for it.

A spokesperson for Cinemark said they are currently evaluating their legal options.

Via ABC 27 

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