Accessible Screenings UK

Types of Screenings

Did you know there are a number of different types of screenings in UK cinemas, tailored ensure that disabled people can enjoy the big screen experience?

This section gives information on the different types of screenings listed on this website.

Whilst many cinemas can provide accessible screenings, there may be reasons why some cannot do so, or at least cannot do so immediately on a film’s release. 

An increasing number of films – and the vast majority of major releases - are supplied to cinemas with ‘access tracks’, specifically Subtitles (on-screen captions) and Audio Description.

But that is not true of all films, and even where these are available, they may not be supplied until a week or two after the initial release of the film.
So while it may seem that cinemas should able to simply ‘switch on’ the subtitles or audio description for any film on demand, that is not always the case. The cinema will need to have the relevant version of the film (with access tracks) and to have had time to check to ensure that the access tracks are working properly.  

It is always best to check first to see what is available at your local cinema. Click here for more information about your local cinema.

 

Subtitled/Captioned Screenings

What are they?

Subtitled/captioned screenings provide a transcription of the audio from a film, displayed at the bottom of the cinema screen.  Along with the dialogue from the film, the subtitles include non-dialogue audio such as "(sighs)" or "(door creaks)".

Other hearing support

Additionally there are a range of hearing support alternatives which customers with a hearing impairment might use in order to enhance their experience. Which will be most appropriate will  depend on their level of hearing, whether they use a hearing aid and what equipment is available in any venue, as this is likely to vary.

Induction loop: This is used by hearing aid wearers and encompasses the seats in the cinema screen. It is designed to remove background noise which might otherwise be picked up by the hearing aid. The hearing aid is switched to the ‘T’ setting or loop programme and receives the soundtrack via the loop. No other equipment is needed. Such loops are often placed elsewhere in the venue to aid interaction between staff and hearing-impaired customers such as at ticket and refreshment sales points.

Infrared system: This system ‘bathes’ the cinema audience in infrared light, which transmits the dialogue to special equipment worn by someone with a hearing impairment. There are four main types of listening devices available for use with the infrared system:

  1. Infrared neck loops, which the hearing aid wearer puts around their neck and switches their hearing aid to the ‘T’ setting or loop programme. The neck loop looks like a necklace; it has an infrared receiver which needs to be facing the screen.
  2. Infrared headsets may be used by those who are hard of hearing but don't use a hearing aid. They have an infrared receiver around the neck that needs to be facing the screen. The headset looks like an upside-down pair of headphones and usually has in-ear headphones.
  3. Infrared receivers which can be used by people with or without hearing aids and this depends on what equipment they plug into the socket. The receiver has a headphone socket into which either headphones, a neck loop or ear hooks can be plugged. These work in a similar way to the infrared headsets and neck loops described above.
  4. Infrared headphones which can be used by people without hearing aids. Hearing aid wearers may be able to wear the headphones; however some hearing aids may experience interference causing a whistling sound. They are worn over the ears, and/or over the hearing aid; they have an infrared receiver.

The equipment for these systems may be borrowed from the cinema ticket office.

For more information visit http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/

Who can benefit from them?

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Foreign language. Aid reading development.

Possible labels on cinema websites:

ST, Subtitled, Captioned Screenings, Open Captioned, OC,

Visually presented as:

   

Did you know?

Every week there are now more than 1,000 Subtitled screenings in UK cinemas - this is a 120 per cent increase over the last five years.

Audio Described

What are they?

Audio Described screenings provide a pre-recorded voice commentary that describes features such as action, body language, expressions and movements during the film. Because it fits within the silent gaps in a film, it doesn't interfere with the dialogue.

It is a separate soundtrack which is broadcast through wireless headphones which only the wearer can hear.The headphones can be borrowed from the cinema ticket office.

For more information about visit: http://www.rnib.org.uk

Who can benefit from them?

Visually impaired people

Possible labels on cinema websites:

AD, Audio Description, Audio Described.

Visually presented as:

 

Did you know?

Last year, 135 out of 202 English language films released in the UK were available with Audio Description, while nine out of the top 10 films each week had AD.

Autism Friendly

What are they?

Autism Friendly Screenings are subtly-adapted screenings which create an environment that is welcoming for people with a range of conditions such as autism, learning disabilities and cognitive disorders. They have sound levels turned down, the lights left on at a low level and there are no trailers at the beginning of the film. Film-goers are free to bring their own food and drinks to the cinema, are able to make noise and to sit where they feel most comfortable.

For more information visit http://www.dimensions-uk.org/support-services/autism-care/autism-friendly-screenings/

Who can benefit from them?

Although these screenings are usually referred to as Autism Friendly Screenings (AFS),some exhibitors use the term ‘relaxed’. They were originally developed to help people with conditions such as autism and Asperger Syndrome visit the cinema. However, experience has shown such screenings can benefit other people with a broad range of cognitive conditions. Rather than trying to list those types of conditions, it is suggested people look at what these screenings do differently to see if they might be of benefit.

Possible labels on cinema websites:

AFS, AF, Autism Friendly, Relaxed Screenings, Sensory Screenings

Visually presented as:

Did you know?

AFS screenings are available in over 600 different cinemas sites around the UK.

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