The UK Cinema Association, supported by members of its longstanding Disability Working Group, has launched Accessible Screenings UK, a website intended to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for audiences looking to find information on accessible screenings at UK cinemas.
The website – which can be found at www.accessiblescreeningsuk.co.uk – is the first ever comprehensive and searchable listings database for accessible screenings at UK cinemas, including Subtitled (ST – sometimes referred to as Opened Captioned or OC), Audio described (AD), Autism Friendly (AF) and Dementia Friendly (DF) screenings.
The site will not only make it easier for disabled customers and their families to find listings for accessible screenings at their local cinema, but will also be a place for them to check cinema information and keep in touch with access-related developments and updates across the cinema industry.
Official statistics suggest that there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, many of whom remain significantly less likely to participate in cultural, leisure and sporting activities than non-disabled people. The total spending power of families with at least one disabled person is estimated to be £274 billion a year.
The UK cinema sector remain committed to being as inclusive and accessible as possible, and in meeting the needs of all of their guests. Research suggests though that those who might benefit from many of the adaptations now available at UK cinemas may be unaware of current provision or sometimes find it difficult to access relevant and correct information.
Accessible Screenings UK was created to collate and promote this information. The website is fully accessible and aims to act as the hub of information for all activities relating to disability and access in UK cinemas.
The website is owned by and managed on behalf of the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) and was developed by the Association with the support of The BoxOffice Company. The UKCA is the trade body representing well over 90 per cent of UK cinema operators, including all of the major cinema circuits as well as smaller mainstream and more specialised cinema sites.
The Association and its members continue to discuss and develop approaches around disability and access through its long-standing Disability Working Group, which comprises representatives from the largest cinema chains, technology partners, colleagues from film distribution and representatives from supporting charities. This group has been instrumental in helping the Association support its members in implementing a best practice approach around access to cinema for disabled people and the development of this website.
Despite many cinemas and venues across the UK offering a range of accessible screenings for those who might benefit, there is still a need for more cinemas to participate to ensure there are more opportunities for disabled customers and their families to enjoy the big screen experience.
Welcoming the launch of the website, James Connor, Policy Executive at the UK Cinema Association, said:
“The positive response in recent years from audiences to accessible screenings has seen more and more UK cinemas look to offer these shows, with these becoming a regular feature of programming at many sites.
Therefore, with the support of the association’s disability working group in particular, we’re now delighted to fully launch Accessible Screenings UK and hope that it becomes a valuable resource for disabled customers and their families to access up-to-date information and details regarding accessible screenings at their local cinema.
It is hoped that this listings website will continue to evolve and raise the profile of accessible screenings, whilst also supporting and encouraging UKCA members to further develop and increase provision at their cinemas.”
Sarah Walters, Campaigns Manager at Dimensions, said
“The launch of Accessible Screenings UK provides an invaluable resource for many families, carers, and people with autism or sensory sensitivities who want to enjoy the experience of going to the cinema. Dimensions’ latest research, shows that 61 per cent of respondents preferred autism-friendly screenings to streaming films at home. Accessible screenings allow people with additional needs to feel welcome in a cinema environment, giving them the opportunity to share in an experience which many of us may take for granted.”
Toki Allison, Inclusive Cinema, BFI FAN said:
“We were heartened to see the rise of accessible cinema before the pandemic struck and hope that the full launch of Accessible Screenings UK will help to raise awareness of screenings available to audiences with access needs, and work towards us growing audiences once again for accessible cinema. Films in a cinema space should truly be for everyone who wants the big screen and sound experience, and this website is a valuable tool in getting to this place for D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse audiences.”
Sonali Rai, Broadcast and Audio Description Manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), said:
“We know from hearing from many blind and partially sighted cinema goers that more needs to be done to make this experience accessible and inclusive for those living with sight loss. The launch of Accessible Screenings UK is a step in the right direction for helping blind and partially sighted people find cinemas that have audio described screenings of the latest films. We look forward to hearing the difference this new service makes for people living with sight loss across the country.”
Accessible Screenings UK is owned by and managed on behalf of the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). The UKCA is the trade body that represents well over 90 per cent of UK cinema operators, including all of the major cinema circuits as well as smaller mainstream and more specialised cinema sites. The website includes:
- a comprehensive and searchable database of showtime listings for accessible screenings in UK cinemas;
- information on what each type of accessible screening entails;
- individual cinema profile pages, setting out the access features to be found at each UK cinema site;
- a form for customers to feedback on their experiences, whether good or bad;
- a news page sharing all the latest information on events, screenings and news relating to access and disability from the UK cinema sector.
For information on how your venue can be more inclusive and put on accessible screenings, visit https://inclusivecinema.org/
Main image: Leicestershire Downs Syndrome Group at a relaxed screening of Peanut Butter Falcon at Leicester Phoenix