Case Study: Universal Accessibility for Schools Screenings

Into Film’s annual Spring programme of schools’ screenings was driven by the principle of increasing universal accessibility.


In March 2022 film education charity Into Film partnered with UK cinemas to hold 99 free schools screenings for both primary and secondary pupils on the theme of 'We Can Be Heroes'. For the first time, exhibitors were asked to screen every film with closed caption Hard of Hearing subtitles. Driven by the principle of increasing universal accessibility, the events were not advertised to schools as ‘special screenings’ for a specific audience but all attendees were made aware of the subtitles to help raise awareness among non-d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing students about access requirements. In addition to this, over a third of the screenings were autism friendly.

Into Film also partnered with BAFTA on a special International Women's Day event at the Empire Haymarket featuring a panel of including Lashana Lynch, Lyttanya Shannon and Siân Fever and hosted by film critic and broadcaster Rhianna Dillon.The event highlighted the importance of equal representation in the creative screen industry for hundreds of secondary students and it also coincided with National Careers Week.

Project aims

  • - they are more open to watching a broader variety of film
    -have an increased awareness of content from the regional/national archives ​
    -given more opportunities to see people like themselves on the big screen ​
    -increased enthusiasm for film and cinemagoing ​
    -given greater opportunities to enjoy a cinemagoing experience that is accessible, welcoming and inclusive ​

  • Outcomes for educators

    -they are given more opportunities to take their class to the cinema​
    -Have a greater appreciation of the value of the cinema experience to their students’ cultural, social and personal development   ​
    -Watching films like this in the cinema increases their general cultural awareness ​
    -Are more likely to visit their local venue as a school group and/or attending outside of school as paying customers ​
    -awareness of ongoing audience development opportunities at participating venues is increased​
    -more engaged with Into Film's cinema screenings offer ​

  • Outcomes for exhibitors

    -more likely to put on audience development activities aimed at young people in the future ​
    -awareness of Into Film as the go-to organisation for film education, young audience development is increased ​


  • The pilot activity was very well received by teachers, with 98% agreeing that it’s important to raise awareness around different audience requirements and 71% that watching a film with subtitles can contribute to increased literacy. There was also plenty of positive feedback about subtitles from teachers who brought a high percentage of pupils who had English as a second language
    Target Admissions / Beneficiary Numbers: 5,000

    Actual Admissions / Beneficiary Numbers: 7,000


12 in total - Are You Proud, Coraline, Flee, Harriet, I am Greta, King Richard, Kubo and the Two Strings, Mary Poppins Returns, Misbehaviour, The People vs Climate Change, The Perfect Candidate, Wreck it Ralph

Key partnerships

BFI FAN and UKCA members. BAFTA.

What worked

  • There is an appetite among educators and their pupils for subtitled screenings for all students, not just those that have pupils with hearing difficulties​
    Exhibitors were generally receptive to screening everything with subtitles

  • For exhibitors:

    80% said they were more likely to put on events aimed at young people​

    70% said that taking part in spring screenings increased interest in providing learning opportunities for young people​

    80% agree that the screenings have attracted a new audience to their cinema​

    100% wanted to participate in more Into Film screenings​

What has been difficult

  • One of the main challenges was lack of available content on DCP with in-built closed caption subtitles which is something we know our distribution colleagues are working hard on to address.

  • It's always challenging to get qualitative feedback from young people, especially when Into Film staff were unable to attend these screenings

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • Double and triple check the content is available with the correct subtitles (one distributor said it was then didn’t provide them until it was too late for some venues)​

  • These screenings were capped at one school per event due to increasing concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in December 2021. Feedback from teachers and a relaxing of general restrictions around the pandemic mean that future events can be advertised to multiple schools, thereby reducing cancellations​.


72% of survey respondents thought that watching a film with subtitles can contribute to increased literacy​

97% agreed that it is important to raise awareness around different audience requirements/preferences, including, but not limited to disabled, neurodiverse and d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences​

11% thought that watching a film with subtitles can distract from their students enjoyment​

​’I am a strong advocate for watching everything with subtitles from an early age to increase word and letter recognition and literacy skills.’​

‘57% of my school speaks English as an additional language. Subtitles are so important for these students.’​

‘Many of my students prefer to view films with subtitles, so this was a very good idea!’​


What audiences said

  • 'I am a strong advocate for watching everything with subtitles from an early age to increase word and letter recognition and literacy skills.' - teacher'Many of my students prefer to view films with subtitles, so this was a very good idea!' - teacher

  • 'I loved the choice because it was something new to me and it was like a nice interesting film' - pupil

  • ‘the film, was very informative to the time. allowed me to understand deeper into slavery.’ pupil

  • ''it wasn’t just fun it was epic.’ - pupil

  • 'I am Greta screening really fired up our neurodiverse and autistic students, this was unexpected and an excellent immediate outcome of the screening'

  • ''It was ‘the best day ever’. The cinema was like a ‘beautiful palace’. We had a wonderful time, the children were mesmerised and beautifully behaved. Staff were so accommodating. We came back to school and they couldn’t stop talking about the film. I had put together a presentation using IntoFilm resources. They will all be writing a film review in film club on Monday. We can’t wait for another opportunity to all go again. They loved experiencing a movie with their peers and friends from other classes. It was magical.'​ - teacher

  • 'The learners were fully engaged with the film and were clapping along to some of the music scenes! Many of our learners are refugees and asylum seekers and the film stimulated many memories and emotions. One learner said she was reminded of the very first time her father drove her and her sister to school after being denied access to education.

What professionals, press and partners said

  • ‘One teacher specifically reached out to make sure this was an option as one of students required the subtitles. They were grateful as it was inclusive to her entire group.’ exhibitor