The ICO commissioned this toolkit for (primarily) independent film exhibitors to support their work in making their venues and services more inclusive and accessible for visually impaired people.

Sight Loss in the UK

  • It is estimated that currently, over two million people in the UK live with sight loss that is severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives, such as their not being able to drive.
  • Every day, 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK.
  • As we get older we are increasingly likely to experience sight loss, and the UK population is ageing. In addition, sight loss is strongly linked with certain medical conditions as well as lifestyle factors such as diabetes and obesity – the rates of which are both rising.
  • The number of people with sight loss is estimated to rise to 2.7 million by 2030. By 2050, the current figure will double to over four million.

People living with sight loss want to enjoy the same experiences as everyone else. This includes going to the cinema and there is therefore a strong economic argument for film exhibitors to meet this demand, as well as the obvious social and moral imperatives for cultural organisations to aim to serve everyone within their community.

In addition, cinemas have a legal duty to make their services accessible to all people with disabilities, including visually impaired people, under the Equality Act 2010. People with disabilities who feel they have been refused or denied reasonable access to a service have the option to take the service provider to court.

Organisations that are inclusive and welcoming to people with disabilities gain enhanced community reputation and trust. People with disabilities are loyal to organisations which provide a consistently good and inclusive service.

Read the full ICO guide to Developing Visually Impaired Audiences, and check out their web page on Subtitling and audio description for information around screening accessibly to blind and partially-sighted audiences.

Understanding Sight Loss – Bhavini’s story