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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Going to the cinema - access and concessions

Most cinemas, especially modern multi-screen types, provide good facilities for disabled people. Details of facilities at cinemas are normally found on their websites under 'Access' or 'Disabled customers' or a similar heading.

The Cinema Exhibitors' Association Card

The Cinema Exhibitors' Association (CEA) Card is a national card for disabled people. It entitles the holder to one free ticket for a person accompanying them to the cinema. To be eligible, the holder must receive Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or be registered blind.

The card costs £5.50 and is valid for one year. You can get an application form at any participating cinema, or download one from the CEA website.

If a cinema is not in this scheme, it is worth asking if they offer reduced or free admission to your assistant or carer.

Blind and visually-impaired customers

Many cinemas offer, and more and more films contain, audio description. This is a service where the action, scene changes and the actors' body language is described in addition to the dialogue. You listen to the commentary through a lightweight headset.

Some cinemas have the system for all their screens which means that every screening of a film can be audio-described. At others, ask about when audio-described films are screened. In either case, reserve the service when making your booking. 

The Your Local Cinema website has listings of audio described screenings in cinemas as well as available audio described DVD titles.

Some cinemas may have the layout of the cinema complex and other information in Braille. Programme times are usually available as a recorded message over the telephone.

Deaf and hearing-impaired customers

Most cinemas have induction loops - either infrared, induction or both.

An induction loop is a system that helps you hear more clearly by reducing background noise. In a cinema, a loop can help you hear the film more clearly. Induction loops cannot be used to give stereo sound, but infrared systems can.

Check whether the cinema has this facility when you book.

Many cinemas run subtitled screenings on a regular basis. This is usually indicated in listings. The Your Local Cinema website has listings of subtitled screenings country-wide.

Physically or mobility-impaired customers

If you are a wheelchair user or have restricted mobility, contact the cinema in advance to check their facilities. Cinemas must provide an area for wheelchair users.

If you need a wheelchair once you arrive at the cinema, contact the cinema beforehand.

Assistance dogs

If you have an assistance dog, book your ticket and let the cinema know in advance. They can then allocate the most appropriate seating for you.

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