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Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, today announced that it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments, in all of its first-run theatres. Cinemark is installing audio description systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain's conversion to an all-digital format. Installation is well under way, and all of Cinemark’s theaters in California already have audio description capability. Cinemark will be able to offer audio description at all of its first-run theaters by mid 2013.
In audio description (also known as descriptive narration) a narrator provides vocal description of key visual aspects of a movie; such as descriptions of scenery, facial expressions, costumes, action settings, and scene changes described audibly during natural pauses in dialogue or critical sound elements. Narration of these elements is then woven into the soundtrack of the program or film, so that the finished version is a mix of program audio and descriptive narration. The description, which is provided by movie studios, is available only to members of the audience who choose to receive it via personal headsets and a receiver provided at the theater.
The California Council of the Blind (CCB), a consumer advocacy organization of people who are blind and visually impaired, and individual blind Cinemark movie patrons applauded Cinemark's commitment. Cinemark has worked closely with CCB and individual patrons with visual impairments on its audio description initiative.
Rio Popper, an eleven-year-old sixth grader who lives in Redwood City, California, was thrilled with Cinemark’s announcement: “Going to a movie with audio description is way more fun than having to have my parents or friends tell me what’s happening on the screen. There’s a Cinemark movie complex near my house that has already installed the equipment and I love going there.”