[nobe-l] How AMC Stole Christmas

Sharon Dudley sharon.a.dudley at gmail.com
Fri Dec 25 20:54:58 UTC 2015

I’ve been in tears over this several times today. My husband and I are fans
of science fiction and fantasy, and for years, we’ve shared this hobby
together. I was a kid when Star Wars came out for the first time, and I’ve
always loved the movies.

For a Christmas surprise, he got us tickets to see the new Star Wars movie
at a time when they offered audio description. There were only two such
shows during the day, and the morning showing on Christmas day seemed to be
the best chance that we could avoid overcrowded theaters and make sure we
got the right headset for audio description.

The introduction of audio description in movie theaters was such a
wonderful advancement, and made me so happy when our local theaters added
it to their list of services. I have had terrible anxiety about going to
movie theaters ever since I went to see the LAST Star Wars movie: Revenge
of the Sith. My daughter was quietly describing the action on the screen,
and the woman next to her kept tapping her and shushing her. Then my
husband, sitting on my other side, took over describing, and the woman
glared at us, even though it was impossible for her to hear him describing.
After the movie, she yelled at us, and at me in particular, and called me a
bitch for ruining her movie experience, even after we explained that I was
totally blind. She said that if I needed someone to talk to me during the
movie, I should just stay home. That experience has stayed with me for a
decade and colored my expectations of going out to the movies.

When we got to AMC, we went straight to a manager, who flagged down a girl
working there to give us the headset. We specifically asked if it was audio
description, as opposed to enhanced audio for the hearing impaired. She
assured us it was, but that it wouldn’t start working until the movie
started. So we got into the theater and waited.

I don’t think I need to describe the anticipation we felt, but when the
long-awaited words “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” came onto
the screen, the headphones were silent. And with the opening crawl of
words, there was no reading from the headphones. When my husband started to
describe things on the screen, I heard sound in the headphones, but it was
only amplified sounds of the events on the screen. No description. No

We left the theater and angrily complained to management. Yes, we got our
money back after it took 20 minutes to explain the situation and for them
to realize what they’d done and get the right headset, and then they
offered to let us back in with the right equipment. What good is that?
We’ve missed the whole first part of the movie! There was no other showing
with audio description for 7 more hours. We weren’t going to come back at
6pm when our daughter is coming over for dinner with our 2-month old

This was not the first time this has happened to us. The many many times
we’ve tried to go out to a movie, there has not been one single instance
where they gave us the right equipment the first time. And I can only think
of two times where we caught their mistake in time to enjoy the movie. I
have complained to management each and every time, in at least 3 different
theaters in our community. Every time, they have promised to train their
employees better in the future. And every time, we get the same ignorance
of disability accommodations.

I wonder if anyone else with disabilities has experienced such difficulties
at AMC theaters in particular, or movie theaters in general. What do you do
and how do you explain to them what you need BEFORE it’s too late to enjoy
the movie? This was such a nice surprise from my husband, and it turned
into such a heartbreak on Christmas. We’re going to try again in a couple
days, but how does everyone else get past this barrier?

Sharon Dudley, NBCT

More information about the NOBE-L mailing list