We have collated some guides to help you to increase and improve access for disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent people in your organisations, whether that be for audiences at the cinema or for employees.

Cinemas across the country currently offer specific accessible screenings, such as subtitled, audio described, BSL interpreted, relaxed environment, autism-friendly, and/or dementia-friendly screenings.

UK events

Your Local Cinema lists many subtitled and audio-described screenings

Accessible Screenings UK also list autism-friendly, subtitled and audio-described screenings

Resources

The BFI FAN: Access Directory
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BFI FAN: EDI in Focus - Advocacy Skills for Accessible Screenings
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Oska Bright: Welcoming Learning Disabled Audiences Back
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And What Next? Demanding Change | THE CINEMA OF IDEAS
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Using Film to Tell Disabled Stories | THE CINEMA OF IDEAS
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Unlimited: Accessible Recruitment and Employment
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Crip Club
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Crip Cinema Archive
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The Space: Digital Accessibility: Best Practice
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Unlimited: Accessible Marketing Guide
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Unlimited: Cards for Inclusion
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The Bigger Picture Case Study: Universal Accessibility for Schools Screenings
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ICO: Where to Begin with Relaxed Screenings
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The Hollywood Reporter: A Recent History of the Academy’s Accessibility and Disability Inclusion Efforts
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What might a more inclusive film programming world look like?
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Caption This: the subtitling champions working to make festivals, screenings and global cinema more accessible
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Being Disabled In Britain - A Journey Less Equal
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Centering Disabled Arts and Audiences
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Planning and Access for Disabled people: A Good Practice Guide
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The Fringe Guide to Adapting Events for Deaf and Disabled Audiences
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UKCA's CEA Card
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Using A Range Of Communication Channels To Reach Disabled People
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Accessibility in cinemas: Are cinemas playing fair?
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Access Guide - Ensuring your venues and events are open to all
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Deafblindness Curation

Charlotte shared this talk with attendees of a Deaf awareness workshop led by Wales Council for Deaf People in collaboration with Film Hub Wales. Those joining were film exhibitors learning to be more deaf-friendly in their cinemas.

International Day of People with Disabilities is the annual celebration of people with disabilities. In 2021 the theme was “Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.”

Since March 2020, every person has been impacted by drastic political, social and economic change as a result of domestic and international responses to COVID-19.

It was intended that International Day of People with Disabilities should be used to recognise that people who live with disabilities are among the most affected populations amid the COVID pandemic. Where marginalisation, discrimination, vulnerability and exploitation are every day factors for many people, the increased risk of poor outcomes were magnified with the reduced access to routine health care and rehabilitation services, more pronounced social isolation, poorly tailored public health messaging, inadequately constructed mental health services, and a lack of emergency preparedness for people with access needs.

We call on domestic and international public health officials, political representatives, advocates, supporters, and every citizen in every community, to learn from the experiences of people living with disabilities during the pandemic, and push for more meaningful investments into the socioeconomic building blocks which will reduce the barriers faced by people with disabilities in every community.

Disabled representation in cinema continues to be a struggle, as we see very few authentic depictions that don’t play to the hero or tragedy tropes so often associated with disability on screen. Our ask of the film sector is to see more varied characters and stories about disability, to hire more disabled talent into production, distribution and exhibition roles in film, and to support any workers with access needs with compassion and care, so they can progress and have jobs for life in the industry.

As regards exhibition, at Inclusive Cinema, we seek to see as many subtitled, audio-described and relaxed screenings made available across the UK for those with access requirements as there are for those without access requirements.

Useful sources for accessible screenings

Your Local Cinema lists many subtitled and audio-described screenings

Accessible Screenings UK also list autism-friendly, dementia-friendly, subtitled and audio-described screenings

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), 21 March, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.

Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, being universally present across racial, gender or socioeconomic lines in approximately 1 in 800 live births, although there is considerable variation worldwide. Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.

Learning Disability and Film

Learning disabled people are chronically underrepresented in the film industry. This is a time to reflect on supporting learning disabled representation in the film industry as well as consider access to cinema for neurodivergent audiences.

Released on World Down Syndrome Day 2021, Amber and Me is a documentary about friendship. Amber has Down’s syndrome and is about to start school together with her twin sister, Olivia. Although at first her experience is positive, she soon starts to struggle and asks to stay at home. Olivia is keen to keep her twin sister in the same class and so begins the struggle of keeping the girls together at school. The film follows the challenges for both girls through 4 years of school and charts the changes in their relationship, uniquely from their own perspectives.

In 2019, FAN New Releases supported Signature’s title The Peanut Butter Falcon, a modern Mark Twain-esque adventure starring Shia LaBeouf (American Honey, Fury) as a small-time outlaw turned unlikely coach who joins forces with Zack Gottsagen‘s Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome on the run from a nursing home with the dream of becoming a professional wrestler. 

You can now rent The Peanut Butter Falcon on BFI Player. (CC available)

My Feral Heart is a drama in which Luke (Steven Brandon), a young man with Down’s syndrome who prizes his independence, is forced into a care home after the death of his mother. There he rails against the restrictions imposed on him, but his frustrations are allayed by his budding friendships with his care-worker Eve (Shana Swash) and a mysterious feral girl (Pixie Le Knot).

BFI Player subscribers can watch the film My Feral Heart on BFI Player, or it can be purchased on DVD or through streaming services. (CC & AD available)

Oska Bright, based in Brighton is the worlds biggest learning disability film festival. Find out more about their amazing work here.

Learning disability and Cinema

During the pandemic learning disabled and neurodiversity focused organisations kept in touch by running online activities with their members. If you are interested in running online activity you may find some helpful resources below.

If you’re interested in running a relaxed screening to help bring in Learning Disabled audiences to your cinema, find out more in our quick tips for running relaxed screenings. You may also find some transferable advice in our autism-friendly screenings guide, though bear in mind much of this advice is specific to people living with autism, not necessarily those who are Learning Disabled. Ideally, consult with Learning Disabled groups in your area for advice and expertise.

UK Disability History Month takes place from November until December.

The UK Disability Month website offers a wide range of resources to understand the importance of the struggles of Disabled People.

Cinemas and film exhibitors can use this time to promote stories which explore the history and struggles of disabled people.

It is important that accessibility is addressed in all its complexity, encompassing the physical environment, transportation, information and communication, and services.

Cinemas across the country offer access for people who may have visible or hidden disabilities, as well as offering specific accessible screenings, such as subtitled, audio described, BSL interpreted, relaxed environment, autism-friendly, and/or dementia-friendly screenings.

Find screenings…
Your Local Cinema lists many subtitled and audio-described screenings
Accessible Screenings UK also list autism-friendly, subtitled and audio-described screenings

We Shall Not Be Removed worked in partnership with Ramps on the Moon, Attitude is Everything,Paraorchestra, and What Next? to create a new guide for the arts and entertainment sectors to support disability inclusion. Their Seven Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations working safely through COVID-19 was designed to complement the suite of guidance documents already issued by UK Governments and sector support organisations.

The focus of this unique initiative, which builds from the #InclusiveRecovery campaign, was to ensure D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled people were not discriminated against as creative work begun again and as venues re-opened following closure during the Covid pandemic. The Seven Principles offer practical guidance to arts and cultural organisations to support disabled artists, audiences, visitors, participants and employees.

The Seven Principles are applicable across all art forms and across all 4 UK nations and come with endorsement from a wide range of leading sector bodies including: Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, The Arts Council of Wales, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, British Film Institute, The Museum Association, Theatres Trust, Royal Philharmonic Society and the British Council.

The Seven Inclusive Principles are: 

  1. All organisational activities must comply with the requirements of The Equality Act (2010) and make reasonable adjustments to operating practice that ensure disabled people are not unlawfully  discriminated against
  2. All actions relating to disabled people should be undertaken in accordance with the Social Model of Disability and aim to combat and eliminate ableism
  3. Co-production with disabled people: disabled people should be consulted when organisations develop bespoke operating or re-opening plans, and undertake Equality Impact Assessments before making decisions
  4. Organisations need to provide clear, accurate and comprehensive information about Covid-19 measures to enable disabled artists, practitioners, employees, visitors, audiences and participants to assess their own levels of risk, and be prepared to adapt to specific enquiries or requests
  5. The customer journey for disabled audiences and visitors should be thoroughly mapped, ensuring it is equality impact assessed, clearly communicated in multiple formats to the public, and prioritises free companion tickets to maintain essential access
  6. Disabled artists are an important cultural asset in the UK and their engagement in all new creative projects should be prioritised
  7. Organisations should ensure they celebrate diversity, embed anti-ableist principles to support and protect disabled people, and should demonstrate due care for the disabled workforce when making decisions about redundancy, restructuring and new ways of working

Read the full document for details and examples here at WeShallNotBeRemoved.com

You can also find out more through this video.

RNIB – Audio Description

If you are finding it difficult to watch your favourite television programmes or films, you can enable audio description (AD). Audio description (AD) is additional commentary that explains what’s happening on screen. AD describes body language, expressions and movements, making the programme clear through sound.

World Sight Day in October draws attention to the experience of millions of people dealing with sight loss across the world. Over 3 out of 4 of the world’s vision impaired are avoidably so, therefore the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) are running their #LoveYourEyes campaign to raise awareness about global eye health. Find out how you can support through their website resources.

Cinemas UK-wide make films available with audio description so customers with sight loss can experience the latest films. Audio description is only made available on some titles, but we look to a time when audio description is available on all titles.

Accessible Screenings UK lists audio-described screenings, as well as other accessible screenings.

Learning Disability Week, taking place in the third week of June is presented by Mencap,

Learning Disability and Film

Learning disabled people are chronically underrepresented in the film industry. This is a time to reflect on supporting learning disabled representation in the film industry as well as consider access to cinema for neurodivergent audiences.

Ian Davies’ film Amber and Me follows the challenges for twin sisters through 4 years of school and charts the changes in their relationship, uniquely from their own perspectives. Amber has Down’s syndrome and is about to start school together with her sister, Olivia. Although at first her experience is positive, she soon starts to struggle and asks to stay at home. Olivia is keen to keep her twin in the same class and so begins the struggle of keeping the girls together at school. It can be streamed through virtual cinemas and purchased at the Amber & Me website.

In 2019, FAN New Releases supported Signature’s title The Peanut Butter Falcon, a modern Mark Twain-esque adventure starring Shia LaBeouf (American Honey, Fury) as a small-time outlaw turned unlikely coach who joins forces with Zack Gottsagen‘s Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome on the run from a nursing home with the dream of becoming a professional wrestler. You can now watch The Peanut Butter Falcon on BFI Player.

You can also watch the film My Feral Heart on Amazon Prime. A drama in which Luke (Steven Brandon), a young man with Down’s syndrome who prizes his independence, is forced into a care home after the death of his mother. There he rails against the restrictions imposed on him, but his frustrations are allayed by his budding friendships with his care-worker Eve (Shana Swash) and a mysterious feral girl (Pixie Le Knot).

Oska Bright, based in Brighton is the worlds biggest learning disability film festival. Find out more about their amazing work here.

Learning disability and Cinema

Through Covid learning disabled and neurodiversity focused organisations kept in touch by running online activities with their members. If you are interested in running online activity you may find some helpful resources below.

If you’re interested in running a relaxed screening to help bring in Learning Disabled audiences to your cinema, find out more in our quick tips for running relaxed screenings. You may also find some transferable advice in our autism-friendly screenings guide, though bear in mind much of this advice is specific to people living with autism, not necessarily those who are Learning Disabled. Ideally, consult with Learning Disabled groups in your area for advice and expertise.