Funding for deaf access to cinema to be cut?

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I spotted last week that the UK Film Council are doing a consultation on their future priorities, and I’m glad I did.

There’s no mention of access to the cinema for deaf children and adults in it. For a moment, I suddenly thought that we now live in a world where deaf children and young people can go and see any film they like with subtitles at any time whenever they like . But then I saw the pigs flying by the window and I realised I hadn’t missed an important memo somewhere. We don’t live in such a world and cinema access for deaf people, whilst much better than it used to be, could still be a lot better. So it’s pretty depressing to read that it’s not a priority for the UK Film Council.

And it’s get worse. There’s no mention of funding for existing initiatives that aim to widen access. As I understand it, existing UK Film Council funding for the award-winning one-stop shop website is being cut. If I didn’t have access to the website, it would be a lot harder for me to work out what subtitled films are showing where. I probably wouldn’t bother in the end. On top of that, capital funding to allow cinemas to buy equipment to show subtitles is also being cut. In fact, according to the consultation, only around 0.5% of the UK Film Council’s future expenditure will go towards “diversity and inclusion”, and there is no mention of anything of direct benefit to deaf children and young people. Nada.

I know I’m not alone when I say there is insufficient choice of subtitled films at convenient times at local cinemas. A lot of cinemas seem to think that deaf children’s schools are quite relaxed about them bunking off to watch a film judging by the times they schedule some subtitled films. Instead of making cuts, shouldn’t the UK Film Council should be looking at ways to widen access, by funding research into on-demand technology for subtitled films?

The consultation closes tomorrow so if you’d like to respond to their online survey, you need to be very quick. NDCS’s response can be dowloaded from here.

Be good to hear your thoughts. Are you surprised / disappointed that the UK Film Council are not making access to the cinema for deaf children and adults a priority? Leave a comment below to say what you think.


3 thoughts on “Funding for deaf access to cinema to be cut?

  1. I have a 9 year old hearing impaired daughter and this issue has a become my bug bear of late. I’m incredibly frustrated that our local cinema (Vue) seems to have a random approach to screening of subtitled films however having spoken with them, it seems that they are apparently reliant on whatever the distributors send them…not sure how accurate this is but that was their explaination. I’m not sure what the answer is. My daughter can’t go to the latest film release with her friends because she really does need subtitles so already this is having an impact on her socially. Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Clare,

    I know that some other families have requested a meeting with the manager of their local cinema to explain why more subtitles are important, what impact this has on a personal level, and how this has helped make a difference. If you know of other parents in the area, then a big joint meeting may have even more of an impact.

    Another option, which would involve a lot more work, I’m afraid, would be to make a claim of disability discrimination. I’m not aware of any claims being made against cinemas so I’m not sure how effective it would be. But if you’d like to try anyway, here is some information on how:

    Is this helpful? Let us know how you get on!


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