One In Seven UK Cinemas Offers Captioning And
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 3, 2004
LONDON, ENGLAND--More people with vision and hearing disabilities in the United Kingdom can enjoy new film releases, now that over 100 of the nation's 700 cinemas have installed captioning and audio-description equipment.
At the beginning of the year, only 22 cinemas in the UK had equipment designed to make new releases accessible to blind and partially-sighted movie-goers, along with those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
"This meant many deaf and hard of hearing people had to travel unacceptable distances for a specific screening just to enjoy the latest film," the Royal National Institute for Deaf People said, pointing out that this population has been excluded from the movie-going experience since the end of "talkies" in the 1920s.
In February, the UK Film Council received a £500,000 ($911,000 US) grant from the National Lottery Fund to install new digital subtitling and audio-description equipment in 78 other movie houses. Audio-description provides a commentary, through headphones, explaining action sequences, body language and more, to the listener without interfering with the film's dialogue.
The RNID has said that five million people in the UK use subtitles regularly when watching television at home. Now they can have the same opportunities in the cinema.
"In the past, too many people with impaired sight and hearing have been cut off from the world of cinema," said Peter Buckingham, Head of the UK Film Councils Distribution and Exhibition Fund. "This new scheme will mean that they will able to enjoy films at the cinema, as well as the discussions afterwards, along with their friends and family."
The movie theaters are preparing to comply with Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Provisions of Part III, which come into effect on October 1, require services to be accessible to people with disabilities. People who feel discriminated against will be able to sue.