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Why cinemas should follow accessibility regulations

Does your cinema follow accessibility regulations?

A while back, I wrote a blog post about my experiences at the cinema with my hearing loss. Since then, it’s sad to say I’ve only been to see one subtitled film. I look at the cinema websites every so often to see if they have subtitled showings and I’ve rarely seen one that is suitable, or that I’m available to watch.

I am passionate about making situations and places accessible for deaf people, but I almost had to give up on my ‘fight’ to make cinemas accessible for D/deaf people, simply because the cinemas aren’t willing to contribute.

As this month’s #HearingLossHour topic is all about ‘Accessing theatre, cinema and the Arts’ and I thought I would share some Cinema/Movie Theatre regulations with you, to help improve your cinema experience.

If you live in the UK

Cinemas in the UK must follow “The Equality Act 2010.” This act is in place to make organisations and businesses aware of the law, with regards to inequality and discrimination. (This act substitutes the Disability Discrimination Act). The main statement declares that reasonable adjustments should be made for people with disabilities, to allow them to use their product or service equally.

In relation to cinemas, they should put suitable measures in place, for example regular subtitled showings or providing technology, such as subtitle glasses to their customers to make their services accessible.

This is a statement from the act:

“The Equality Act 2010 covers all service providers in all sectors, which means you must do what the equality law states in relation to your staff training and awareness, operational functions, processes, information and facilities. In order to do this, you may need to make some reasonable adjustments, which means possibly changing the way things are done, providing aids and additional services and making changes to overcome barriers created by the physical features of your premises. What is considered reasonable in law depends upon the effectiveness of the change, the building’s status (e.g. Listed Building) and the physical practicalities and financial implications. To read the Disability Quick Start Guide’: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/85011/disability.pdf”

If you live in the USA

There have been some new regulations put in place, for example: cinemas must now advertise and offer subtitles and/or closed captioning glasses to their D/deaf customers.

According to The U.S Department of Justice:

“The Justice Department today announced an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III regulation to further clarify a public accommodation’s obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities.  The final rule provides that public accommodations that own, operate or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed or otherwise made available with these features.”

Read more: DOJ: Cinemas must offer tech for blind and deaf customers


It sounds to me as the U.S are leading on making cinemas more accessible for D/deaf people. I do hope the UK will follow suit over the next few years! In the meantime, we will have to keep reminding our cinemas to subtitle films. The more people who get involved, the better!

Keep posted for today’s Hearing Loss Hour, Dec. 7 from 1-2pm! The topic is Accessing Theatre, Cinema and the Arts. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #HearingLossHour

Author Details
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.