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Friday, June 24, 2016

Illinois woman sues Fox Theatre over lack of captioned performances for patrons with hearing impairment

photo of the Fox Theatre
article By Robert Patrick St. Louis Post-Dispatch | June 23, 2016

ST. LOUIS, MO • An Illinois woman filed a federal civil lawsuit against the Fabulous Fox Theatre Wednesday claiming that the theater refused to provide captioning at an upcoming performance for patrons with hearing impairment.

Maria C. "Tina" Childress' lawsuit also seeks class-action status.

Maria Childress, (photo_L) from Champaign, is an avid theater-goer and member of the Association of Late Deafened Adults, which advocates for “greater access through captioning to public places,” the suit says.

Childress became totally deaf at 29 due to an illness, the suit says. Although her cochlear implants allow her to “function normally under ideal circumstances,” she can't fully understand stage dialog or lyrics masked by music, the suit says.

The suit says that some theaters provide captioning for the audience, using the final script synced to the performance and displayed on a small screen or a hand-held device.

When Childress asked the Fox to provide captions for next summer's show “Rent,” Fox refused, and instead offered to schedule a sign language interpreted performance or provide “volume-enhancing assistive-listening devices,” neither of which would work for Childress, the suit says.

The suit says Fox has also not responded to a letter from a Childress lawyer telling them that they were required to provide captioning under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A Fox representative did not return calls seeking comment.

The suit says that the Association of Late Deafened Adults has successfully fought for captioning equipment in California movie theaters.

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