Deaf teen finds unsuspecting ally at Rockville cinema

Kate Ryan, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — This Thanksgiving weekend, Lana Pavlovskaya is proud and grateful.

She’s proud that her 16-year-old daughter Vika, who is deaf, is able to advocate for herself and her friends.

And she’s grateful that a manager at a local movie theater stuck by his decision to make sure that technology for deaf and hearing-impaired customers should function as needed.

Here’s what happened:

Vika and two deaf friends decided to go see the new Adam Sandler movie at Rockville’s Regal Cinemas. They chose that location because they knew the theater had the technology to synchronize the dialogue on screen with captions via a handheld device, like an iPad. Captionfish.com provides a list of participating theaters.

The girls were excited, they’d been looking forward to seeing the comedy. But when the movie started, there was a problem. The captioning system wasn’t working. The girls went to the manager, who apologized and restarted the movie. Still, the captioning wasn’t working. Once again, the manager delayed the film to see to the glitch.

That angered some customers. One woman, according to Pavlovskaya, became so angry she told the girls to leave, and demanded the manager start the movie immediately. Pavlovskaya says the manager responded by saying, “Well, these girls paid money too. So we need to fix it and you will have to wait.”

The third time, the movie started with the captions. Afterward, the manager, who wanted to make sure the girls felt welcome in the future, offered them free tickets to another show of their choosing. Pavlovskaya said his decision and that generous offer prompted her to contact WTOP.

“I think it can be a good example for anybody.”

She explains her daughter lost her hearing in infancy. As the parent of a child with a disability, she wishes more people could be like that manager, and put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

“For me, I feel very good, and when I feel good I want to do something good in return. And that’s the chain I think we want to follow: to make people happy, and share this happiness.”

WTOP contacted Regal Cinemas in Rockville, and confirmed the information. They identified the manager on duty that day as “Eric.” Pavlovskaya says he has her appreciation.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

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