I went to the cinema today to see Maleficent (It was terrible, both in terms of acting and storyline, but that’s not the point here). The above picture is what I saw in the lobby of the cinema. Maleficent was the first film I’ve seen in the cinema subtitled that wasn’t a foreign film.
Whilst subtitled cinematic releases are slowly becoming more frequent, this image shows how much further the cinema industry has to go before it’s accessible. One showing each of two films on only one day in an entire week?! It’s disheartening. All cinemas these days are wheelchair accessible, but for hearing-impaired people, we only have two options.
Visual entertainment (films and tv) is possibly the most passive form of entertainment. It requires no physical movement, little to no cognitive engagement (depending on how complex whatever you’re watching is), so why is so non-accessible to people with sight and hearing issues?
On Cineworld’s website, you can filter showings by date, subtitles, 2D, 3D, DBox, audio described. If you filter this week’s showings (for my local, Didsbury) you’ll find three showings for subtitles. One showing of Belle and two for 22 Jump Street. If you filter by audio described, you get one, and it’s a 3D showing of X-Men: Days Of Future Past. If you require audio descriptions and you don’t like 3D, I’m sorry, Cineworld Didsbury doesn’t care about you.
Subtitles require very little effort to include and have little to no negative effects for people who don’t require them. Even more so with AD-films. If you’re in an AD showing and don’t require AD, you wouldn’t even know you were in an AD showing.
As with games, cinema are doing one aspect of accessibility brilliantly, but falling down on the rest. It’s about time this changed.