There are several access schemes operating in the UK which provide benefits, transparency when negotiating a trip to the cinema.


CEA Card – The CEA Card is a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). The Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema. The Card is also one way for cinemas to make sure they look after their disabled guests. If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, cinema staff should make them for you whether you have a CEA Card or not.

Nimbus Card – The Access Card translates a cardholder’s disability / impairment into symbols which highlight the barriers they face and the reasonable adjustments they might need. This then informs providers quickly and discreetly about the support needed and may gain holders access to things like concessionary ticket prices and complex reasonable adjustments without having to go into loads of personal detail. It’s all based on rights outlined in the Equality Act and providers responsibilities.

HYNT Card – Hynt is a national access scheme that works with theatres and arts centres in Wales to make sure there is a consistent offer available for visitors with an impairment or specific access requirement, and their Carers or Personal Assistants. If you need support or assistance to attend a performance at a theatre or arts centre then you may be eligible to join hynt. Each year HYNT holds a symposium for venue staff and other professionals working in the sector.


Nimbus CredAbility – CredAbility is Nimbus’ quality mark. Like the Access Card itself CredAbility was designed and developed by Nimbus; with and for disabled people. It reflects what a commitment to good practice should look like when providing services to a disabled customer.

Gigbuddies – Gigbuddies is NOT about providing free support or replacing statutory services. It’s about enabling people with learning disabilities to have people in their lives who aren’t paid to be there. Gigbuddies match people up with a volunteer who commits to attending at least one gig per month. Gigbuddies is a campaign run by charity, Stay Up Late.


Euan’s Guide – is the disabled access review site where disabled people, their family, friends and carers can find and share reviews on the accessibility of venues around the UK and beyond. The site is an invaluable tool for everything from planning a day out, to picking a last-minute place for coffee or lunch. “The aim of Euan’s Guide is to empower disabled people by providing information that will give confidence and choices for getting out and about.” Founder, Euan Macdonald.

AccessAble – AccessAble is here to take the chance out of going out. To give you the accessibility information you need to work out if a place is going to be accessible for you. They’ve surveyed 10,000s of venues across the UK and Ireland, including shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, railway stations, hotels, colleges, universities, hospitals and more. Use AccessAble to find wheelchair friendly venues or check out disabled access and facilities.

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

We recommend using professional subtitling and audio description services for your film wherever possible, to ensure the best possible standard and accessibility for your screenings.

To provide subtitles which are accessible for D/deaf audiences you will need to provide caption (descriptive) subtitles for your film, which provide extra information about the sound onscreen as well as dialogue. Subtitling often used for foreign language films translates the dialogue only and assumes a hearing audience. Please check with the individual subtitle supplier whether they provide this.

For foreign language films, you will need a Subtitler and/or Audio Describer who can translate for screen.

Here are details of some UK based organisations who may be able to help:

Subtitling, BSL and Audio Description Services

Matchbox Cineclub  – Subtitling.
Day for Night – Subtitling , audio description, translation in 45 languages.
Voicebox – Subtitling.
Glocal Media – Subtitling and BSL translation for media.
Zebra Uno – Subtitling and BSL translation for media
Capital Captions – Subtitling, audio description and translation.
Screen Language – Subtitling, audio description and translation.
Matinee Multilingual –  Subtitling, audio description and translation in 80+ languages.
Mind’s Eye – Audio Description
Vocal Eyes – Audio Description
Audio Description Association – Offers a directory of freelance Audio Describers, sorted by region.
Sign Language Media – BSL translation for media.
Reflect BSL – BSL translation for media.
Red Bee Media – BSL translation for media.
Bradford Talking Media – Subtitling and BSL translation for media.
Sign Language Direct – BSL translation for media.
Tarjuman – Subtitling and translation.

BSL Interpreter Services

If you are looking for a BSL interpreter for your film screening, event or meeting, here is a list of Interpreter services and organisations who may be able to help:

Action On Hearing Loss – BSL Interpreters, Deafblind interpreters, Lip Speakers, Sign Supported English (SSE) Interpreters.
Clarion UK – BSL Interpreters.
Sign Language Direct – BSL Interpreters and Lip Speakers.
Sign Solutions – BSL Interpreters.
Deaf Umbrella – BSL Interpreters, London and South East (Kent).
Prestige Network – BSL Interpreters.
Zebra Uno – BSL Interpreters, Lip Speakers, Sign Supported English (SSE) Interpreters, Deafblind Interpreters, international Sign Interpreter.
LanguageLine Solutions – BSL Interpreters.
BID Services – BSL Interpreters.
Royal Association for Deaf People – BSL Interpreters, Lip Speakers, Deafblind Interpreters.
Link Hearing – BSL Interpreters.
List of BSL interpreter contacts.

Speech-To-Text and Live Caption Services

AVSTTR (The Association of Speech-To-Text Reporters) – Speech-To-Text Reporters
Action on Hearing Loss – Speech-To-Text Reporters
MyClearText – Speech-To-Text Reporters
Clarion UK – Speech-To-Text Reporters
NRCPD (The National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People) – Speech-To-Text Reporters
BIVR (British Institute of Verbatim Reporters) – Speech-To-Text Reporters
Stagetext – Subtitling and live captioning
AI Live – Live captions
Transcription City – Subtitling and live captioning
Capital Captions – Live captioning

Captioning software

Streamtext – Realtime caption solution
CC Extractor – produces subtitle files from closed captions – transcription, subtitling and captions
Zubtitle – captions for social media
Speakertext – cloud-worker generated captions