On New Year’s Day, Hawaii will become the first state to require captioning and audio descriptions in some movie theaters.
Act 39, introduced by Rep. James Tokioka and signed into law by Gov. Ige in May, requires theaters with more than two locations to provide open captioning for at least two showings per week per movie.
The theaters are also required to provide audio descriptions upon request.
The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2016 and lasts for two years.
“The law removes communication barriers and provides equal access to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have poor vision through reasonable accommodations at movie theaters. It will also help seniors who have trouble hearing, as well as individuals who are learning English as a second language by providing the written dialogue on screen.” – Hawaii House of Representatives
To mark the occasion, the first showing of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with open captioning and audio descriptions will be held at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, January 2, at Ward Theaters.
The Aloha State Association of the Deaf and Rep. Tokioka are hosting a reception following the movie.
[§489-9] Motion picture theater accommodation. [Section effective January 1, 2016. Section repealed January 1, 2018. L 2015, c 39, §3.] (a) A public accommodation that owns, leases, leases to, or operates a motion picture theater in more than two locations in the State shall provide open movie captioning during at least two showings per week of each motion picture that is produced and offered with open movie captioning.
(b) A public accommodation that owns, leases, leases to, or operates a motion picture theater in the State shall provide, upon request, audio description of any motion picture that is produced and offered with audio description.
(c) A violation of this section shall be a discriminatory practice.
(d) This section shall apply to motion pictures that are produced and distributed with the necessary auxiliary aids and services, including captioning and audio description. This section shall not prohibit the showing of a motion picture that is produced and distributed without captioning and audio description; provided that a public accommodation that owns, leases, leases to, or operates a motion picture theater shall provide notice to the public if a motion picture offered for viewing is produced and distributed without captioning or audio description.
(e) For the purposes of this section, “motion picture theater” means a movie theater, screening room, or other venue in use primarily for the exhibition of a motion picture. [L 2015, c 39, §1]