Unsatisfied with the already onerous red tape small business owners must navigate through in order to operate in America, Barack Obama is proposing legislation that would force all cinemas to fund extensive upgrades to benefit deaf and blind patrons.
The new regulations, which were initially developed by the Justice Department three years ago, would initially force theaters to spend about $70,000 per screen upgrading to digital display. Additionally, the proposal includes requirements for cinema owners to install further technologies — narration and closed-captioning, specifically — that would heighten the enjoyment of movies for those with sight or hearing disabilities.
Larger movie houses, including national chains, would be minimally impacted since most have already made the transition to digital. Small operations, however, would necessarily face prohibitive expenses and would likely be forced to close.
One such theater owner described the associated cost of the proposed law “a small fortune,” noting that her business is currently relying on a fundraising campaign to replace its analog projector.
Reports show that about nine in 10 theaters currently feature digital cinemas, though almost half do not have the additional technologies mandated under the proposal. This would result in costly upgrades to movie houses of all sizes and, ultimately, higher admission prices for consumers.
The National Association of the Blind, a proponent of the regulation, has also lobbied for the same changes in other forms of media, including television and live theater.
Quite simply, each individual is unique, and we each possess certain abilities and limitations. Forcing an already beleaguered entrepreneur to bankroll accommodations for every conceivable circumstance is both unfair and irrational.
While recognizing the unique needs of the handicapped is important, no one benefits if a neighborhood theater shutters its doors.
Photo credit: JanneM (Creative Commons)