Deaf man claims theater prevented him from seeing ‘Lion King’

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Tyson Angell, a local man who is Deaf, is hurt and embarrassed after what was supposed to have been a fun night out.

He and his girlfriend, Jackie Kleinhoffer, planned to see “The Lion King” this week at a theater in Pinellas Park. Instead, they found themselves involved in a date-night debacle, one they won’t soon forget.  

“We got here and purchased our tickets and asked for the closed captioning eyewear for the Deaf community, sat down and saw that the glasses were not working,” said Kleinhoffer.  

Angell tells 8 On Your Side that when he had problems with the first set of glasses, he went back and forth for nearly an hour trying to exchange different sets of glasses and even tried another screening of the movie.  

“We sat down and the third set was not working. It was blinking, it was blurry and flashing in and out, the words would not stay on the screen,” said Kleinhoffer. 

The couple eventually missed the movie and say while they did receive a refund, they did not receive an apology. 

“Tyson said it felt, it felt crazy, it was surprising to him. He is not happy with the company and how it was handled. They didn’t give me the right tools to watch the movie and therefore we had to go home,” said Kleinhoffer.   

Close-caption (CC) glasses are designed to play over the scene and display captions in bright letters.  

“This theater said, on their website they offered closed captioning eye-wear and we checked for the availability and it was on their website saying they provide it, but they don’t have it,” said Kleinhoffer.  

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as well as the 2016 amendment (The Final Rule), theaters must have closed-caption devices available, maintain that equipment and provide staff who are trained in the use of that equipment.

8 On Your Side made several attempts to reach Regal Entertainment Group for comment but we have yet to hear back from the company.

In the meantime, Angell and Kleinhoffer are hoping that sharing their unfortunate movie-going ordeal will serve as a teaching experience for those who take equal access and inclusion for granted. 

“He just wishes, they have everything they need to show the movies to everyone and give everyone a chance to choose.” 

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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