Deaf man says he couldn't watch 'The Lion King' because of movie theater's faulty closed captioning glasses

Hope Schreiber
Tyson Angell claims that his local Regal Cinema Group theater was unable to provide him with working closed captioning eyewear, preventing him from watching a movie. (Photo: WFLA)
Tyson Angell claims that his local Regal Cinema Group theater was unable to provide him with working closed captioning eyewear, preventing him from watching a movie. (Photo: WFLA)

A deaf man and his girlfriend, who were looking forward to a date night at their local movie theater, are now asking for an apology after multiple pairs of faulty closed captioning glasses prevented them from enjoying The Lion King.

Tyson Angell and girlfriend Jackie Kleinhoffer visited a Regal Entertainment Group theater Pinellas County, Fla. in hopes of watching the new live-action version of the Disney classic. Instead, Angell left feeling degraded and disappointed after many failed attempts at using the theater's closed captioning eyewear.

"Tyson said it felt crazy, surprising to him," Kleinhoffer translated on Angell's behalf to local news outlet WFLA.

“We got here and purchased our tickets and asked for the closed captioning eyewear for the deaf community, sat down and saw that the glasses were not working,” Kleinhoffer added.

According to WFLA, Angell spent nearly an hour trying different pairs, and even tried another screening of the movie.

"[The words were] blinking, it was blurry and flashing in and out, the words would not stay on the screen,” said Kleinhoffer.

"He is not happy with the company and how it was handled,” Kleinhoffer said, and then translating for Angell, “They didn’t give me the right tools to watch the movie and therefore we had to go home.”

“This theater said, on their website they offered closed captioning eyewear and we checked for the availability and it was on their website saying they provide it, but they don’t have it,” Kleinhoffer added.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a 2016 amendment reads that "public accommodations that own, lease or operate movie theaters must ensure that their movie theater auditoriums that exhibit digital movies produced or distributed with closed movie captions and audio description provide such features to patrons with hearing and vision disabilities at all showings."

Regal Cinemas has allegedly made the inclusion of "technology that would allow accessibility to the deaf and blind for every showtime, for every feature," a goal since 1998, according to NPR.

In 2013, Regal Cinemas introduced Sony Entertainment Access Glasses and required employees to be trained to be able to set the glasses up for a user.

Angell and Kleinhoffer were able to receive a refund for their failed date night, but they did not receive an apology. They're hopeful that by spreading their story, equal access and inclusion will no longer be taken for granted.

“[Angell] just wishes, they have everything they need to show the movies to everyone and give everyone a chance to choose," Kleinhoffer said.

Richard Grover, Vice President of Communications for Regal Entertainment, provided the following statement to Yahoo Lifestyle: “At Regal, we are proud to offer the Sony Entertainment Access System at almost all Regal locations providing closed caption, descriptive video and assisted listening for our guests. Regarding the incident at Pinellas Park, we ran into an issue with the assistive glasses in the auditorium our guest was attending. Our goal is to create the best moviegoing experience for our guests and we did not meet this expectation with this patron. We provided him a refund for both tickets and concessions. Additionally, we are reviewing usage of the devices making sure all work correctly.”

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