re: assistive listening systems in theaters


Settlement Agreement | Department of Justice Press Releases







1. The definitions of the following terms, which are not defined elsewhere, shall apply to this settlement agreement only:

A. "Alteration," when used with respect to an audio-amplification system in a motion picture theater auditorium, means the replacement of speakers and/or other components that are made a part of the facility's physical structure by the use of electrical wiring or other means.

B. "Assistive Listening System" means the equipment that augments a motion picture theater's audio-amplification system for persons with hearing impairments. It includes a "transmitter," "receivers," and either headsets or "neck loop coupling devices."

C. "Auditorium" means a room within a "theater" that has seats and a screen and is used for the exhibition of motion pictures.

D. "Multi-Screen Cinema Complex" means a single facility containing more than one "auditorium."

E. "Neck Loop Coupling Device" means a device attached to a "receiver" that is worn around the neck of a person with a hearing impairment (as opposed to a headset) and allows the signal emitted from a "transmitter" to be received directly through certain types of hearing aids.

F. "Receiver" means the component of an "assistive listening system" which a person with a hearing impairment uses (either with or without a hearing aid) to receive signals, usually in the form of "FM" radio or infra-red waves, emitted from a "transmitter."

G. "Theater" means the facility in which one or more "auditoriums" are located, or may refer to an "auditorium" that is not located within a "multi-screen cinema complex."

H. "Transmitter" means the component of an "assistive listening system" that converts sound from an audio-amplification system into either "FM" or infra-red waves and transmits these signals to individual "receivers" used by persons with hearing impairments.



2. The subjects of this settlement agreement are:

A. the acquisition, of additional receivers for assistive listening systems for the existing, altered, and newly-constructed motion picture theater auditoriums in the United States owned and/or operated by Crown Theaters and;

B. the maintenance and promotion of the use of assistive listening systems by Crown Theaters.



3. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the United States Department of Justice ("the Department"). The complaint alleged that the Crown Cine Theater located in Danbury, Connecticut, owned and operated by Crown Theaters in South Norwalk, Connecticut, was in violation of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA" or "the Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 12181-12189, and the Department of Justice title III implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Pt. 36, because it does not have enough assistive listening systems to provide effective communication to persons with hearing impairments. The Department investigated the complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b).

4. The Crown Cine Theater in Danbury, Connecticut has three screens with a total of 1,074 seats. The theater is equipped with a permanently installed assistive listening systems with a total of fifteen receivers. The Crown Cine Theater advertises the availability of the assistive listening system in newspaper advertisements and at the box office.

5. The Crown Cine Theater in Danbury, Connecticut was constructed before the effective date of title III of the ADA, (January 26, 1992).

6. The parties have decided to resolve this matter as set forth below without adjudication of this dispute. This agreement is for settlement purposes only. It does not constitute an admission of guilt or an admission by Crown Theaters that it engaged in any acts or practices, including the acts or practices described above, that constitute a violation of the ADA.



7. The parties to this agreement are the United States of America and Crown Theaters.


8. Crown Theaters is a public accommodation and is thus subject to the requirements of title III of the ADA, because it owns and/or operates motion picture theaters. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(7)(C); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.

9. Crown Theaters has an obligation to provide auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication, including assistive listening systems, in all of its existing motion picture auditoriums, provided that doing so would not fundamentally alter the nature of the goods or services being provided and would not result in an undue burden (i.e., significant difficulty or cost). 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(3); 28 C.F.R. § 36.303(a) and (c).

10. Providing assistive listening systems does not fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services offered in a motion picture theater, and providing additional receivers at this time in accordance with the terms of this agreement will not result in an undue burden for Crown Theaters.


Acquisition of Receivers

11. Crown Theaters agrees that by August 30, 1999, it will:

A. provide 27 receivers for the assistive listening systems at Crown Cine Theater (equal in number to at least two percent of its 1,074 seats). Because Crown theaters has 15, only 12 more are required in all motion picture theater auditoriums where alterations have not been made to an audio-amplification system since January 26, 1992;

B. ensure that at least one of the receivers in each auditorium shall have a neck loop coupling device, for a total of three.

12. By August 30, 1999, Crown Theaters will submit to the Department a report indicating those auditoriums at which receivers for assistive listening systems have been provided in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 12.

13. The provisions of paragraph 12 do not affect Crown Theaters' obligation to provide receivers equal in number to at least four percent of available seats in all newly- constructed auditoriums. See Standards § 4.1.3(19)(b).


Employee Training and Customer Service

14. Crown Theaters shall take all steps necessary, which may include providing staff training, to ensure that appropriate staff at all theaters:

A. are informed of the availability of assistive listening systems;

B. know where receivers are located on the premises, so that requests for them can be honored promptly; and

C. are familiar with how the assistive listening systems operate, so that they are able to provide basic instruction to customers who are unfamiliar with them, respond to customer questions or complaints, including inquiries by telephone, and conduct testing as required by paragraph 18(A).



15. Crown Theaters agrees that within six months of the effective date of this agreement it will take the following steps to ensure that assistive listening systems are maintained in proper working order at all theaters:

A. implement a plan according to which theaters will be required to test all receivers and transmitters at least once every month, and immediately test any receiver and/or transmitter about which a customer complaint is received;

B. establish a formal requirement that appropriate staff keep records of such testing and, whenever necessary, report any problems with equipment to the Chief Operating Officer;

C. establish procedures requiring that, by the next business day when repair facilities are open after the need for repair or replacement of assistive listening systems is discovered, actions will be initiated to ensure that repairs are made or new equipment will be obtained as soon as is practicable.

16. Within six months of the effective date of this agreement, Crown Theaters will establish policies requiring all theaters that become inaccessible for more than 48 hours because of assistive listening systems that are in need of replacement or repair to provide the following information through their pre-recorded telephone messages:

A. that assistive listening systems are not functioning at the theater;

B. the estimated date by which repair or replacement of assistive listening systems will be completed.

17. Also within six month of the effective date of this agreement, Crown Theaters will establish a policy requiring all of its theaters to issue free movie passes to a future showing of any film at any Crown Theater, along with a full refund of any money actually paid and a written or verbal apology, to any person with a hearing impairment and his or her companion(s), who cannot attend a particular showing of a film because an assistive listening is not in proper working order, if there was no notice of said fact included in the theater's prerecorded telephone message.

Promotion, Outreach, and Advertising

18. In addition to its current practice of providing information concerning the availability of assistive listening systems as part of printed advertisements for its theaters, Crown Theater agrees to take the following actions in order to advertise the availability and promote the use of assistive listening systems at its theaters:

A. within six months of the effective date of this agreement, install signage complying with §§ 4.1.3(19)(b) and 4.30 of the Standards for Accessible Design at any theater that currently has no such signage;

B. beginning six months from the effective date of this agreement, include information about the availability of assistive listening systems in each theater's pre-recorded -telephone announcements;



19. The Attorney General is authorized, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B), to bring a civil action enforcing the ADA in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the terms of this agreement set forth above, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from taking more formal enforcement action in this matter during the pendency of this agreement, as long as Crown Theaters complies with all terms of this agreement.

20. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal district court to enforce this Agreement or the requirements of Title III, following written notice to Crown Theater of possible violation and a period of 10 days in which Crown Theater has the opportunity to cure the alleged violations.

21. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department of Justice's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.



22. This agreement is a public document. A copy of this agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person by Crown Theaters or the Department upon request.



23. The effective date of the Agreement is the date of the last signature below.



24. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.

25. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth herein and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal Law. This Agreement does not affect Crown Theater's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title III of the ADA.

26. The signer of this documents for Crown Theaters represents that he or she is authorized to bind Crown Theater to this Agreement.




Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division


Date: BY: JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief
Susan B. Reilly, Supervising Attorney
Celeste A. Simmons, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
(202) 307-0663




Senior Executive Vice President &

Chief Operating Officer



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February 5, 2001