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Pepsi Center agrees to open captioning for concerts

The Denver arena is to introduce always-on captions for its scoreboards, as a class-action lawsuit over equality legislation nears its end

By IQ on 10 Jan 2018

Pepsi Center in ice hockey configuration

Pepsi Center in ice hockey configuration

image © US Air Force photo/Dave Armer

Pepsi Center, the Denver arena sued last year over its lack of scoreboard captions for the hard of hearing, has agreed to demands to provide open captioning of all aural content at sports matches and concerts.

In a proposed consent decree submitted to the US district court for Colorado, arena owner/operator Kroenke Arena Company agreed to provide open – or always-on – captioning for all content spoken over the arena’s PA system, whether live or pre-recorded.

The class-action lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, deaf woman Kirstin Kurlander, claims the lack of captioning on the 18,000-cap. Pepsi Center’s scoreboards is not in compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Arena operators can be reasonably certain that the settlement will prompt deaf fans at other venues to request more open captioning”

According to Ogletree Deakins disability lawyer David Raizman, the consent degree, which is still awaiting final approval, requires the arena to provide open captioning for “all aural (spoken or heard) content at games played and concerts held at the arena”.

Writing on the Ogletree website, Raizman says that while “the idea that aural content must be effectively communicated to arena fans is not new, “the novelty in this proposed consent decree is that it requires open captioning (in four locations in the corners of the arena) as a required means of providing such communication, and that it covers all aural content, including, for example, lyrics to prerecorded songs.”

The agreement could potential set a precedent for other US arenas who do not provide open captioning, writes Raizman. “[A]rena operators can be reasonably certain that the settlement will prompt deaf fans at other venues to request more open captioning, and perhaps even a few legal claims for the failure to provide such open captioning,” he says.


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