Many small, independent theaters are barely squeaking by, hosting fundraisers to stay in business. But as reported yesterday, September 17 on FoxNews.com, these small business owners may be facing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)- mandated upgrades that could shut them down.
According to the report, the Obama administration is expected to release a proposal requiring theaters to install technology to make movies accessible to blind and deaf patrons. The policy would mandate that all theaters implement closed captioning and audio narration technology.
But small, independent theater owners can barely afford to operate, let alone upgrade. These technologies require digital cinema. Most have plunked down the $70,000 per screen, since Hollywood has made the shift to digital releases. However, the theaters would need to buy headsets to narrate movies for the blind and glasses that provide closed captioning for the deaf.
As reported by FoxNews.com, Clayton Theater owner Joanne Howe of Dagsboro, Del. said, "The cost is a small fortune for a small theater like us." Clayton Theater had already needed to hold fundraisers to upgrade to digital technology, she said.
While the mandate will make it easier for patrons with disabilities to enjoy movies, for small business owners of these independent theaters, it may mean extinction.