Madigan, AMC to announce help for disabled movie fans

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan will make a joint announcement Wednesday with officials of AMC Theatres that the chain is installing captioning and audio-description technology in all of its theaters in Illinois to help movie-watchers with hearing and vision disabilities.

The settlement involves personal devices that will be equipped with captioning and audio-description services for vision-impaired and hearing-impaired viewers. Other movie-watchers won’t even notice, said Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley.

Madigan’s office approached AMC two years ago after Equip for Equality complained that only a small fraction of movie theaters offered the technology for only a limited number of movies and usually at showings set at off-hours.

No lawsuit was ever filed. Madigan’s office just negotiated with the Kansas City, Mo.,-based company.

“This technology will allow people with disabilities to enjoy a movie right alongside their friends and families unlike ever before,” Madigan said in a news release.

“For the past several years we’ve worked with suppliers to develop digital assistive technologies that can be implemented on a broad scale. We’re excited that this technology allows everyone to join us at an AMC theatre,” Noel MacDonald, vice president of Operations at AMC Theatres, said in the release.

Only 21 out of 246 movie theaters in Illinois offered closed-captioning services and only 10 offered audio-description services two years ago when Equip for Equality approached Madigan’s office.

By 2014, all of AMC’s Illinois theaters — which are home to 460 movie screens — will have the technology. About half of them will have it by the end of this year.