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Deaf moviegoers sue theater chain, alleging violation of ADA

Several deaf moviegoers and advocates for the hearing impaired have filed a federal lawsuit in Connecticut against the Bow Tie movie theater chain, alleging it is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing services for hearing-disabled people.

Harvey Corson of Hartford is the President of the Connecticut Association for the Deaf.

"We have decided now that this is the time that we've been waiting for for a very long time, that we've had enough, and so we've gone ahead and filed the lawsuit," said Corson. "And all we're asking for is equal access. That's it."

Corson says they tried to work with Bow Tie to encourage them to adopt new technology that allows deaf or hard-of-hearing people to read captions for movies at their seats. Corson says the company said it would have the devices available by the beginning of July. But he says when he went to see a movies this month in Hartford and West Hartford, he was told that the captioning devices were either unavailable or did not work. Corson says he's hopeful that the lawsuit will encourage other movie theater chains to provide greater access for deaf people. He says there are hundreds of thousands of deaf and hearing-impaired people in Connecticut.

A spokesman for Bowtie Cinemas did not respond to several calls and an email from WSHU, seeking a response to the lawsuit. The company website lists a dozen locations in Connecticut and eight on Long Island, as well as theaters in five other states.

Craig produces sound-rich features and breaking news coverage for WGBH News in Boston. His features have run nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on PRI's The World and Marketplace. Craig has won a number of national and regional awards for his reporting, including two national Edward R. Murrow awards in 2015, the national Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award feature reporting in 2011, first place awards in 2012 and 2009 from the national Public Radio News Directors Inc. and second place in 2007 from the national Society of Environmental Journalists. Craig is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Tufts University.