This post has been written by blogger Ellie, known as Deafie Blogger, highlighting the importance of access to subtitled cinema for those with hearing loss.
Going to the cinema may be considered a common social outing for most, however for people with hearing loss, it’s pure luck if a film that we wish to see is accessible via subtitles.
Subtitles are a lifeline for most with hearing loss, as they are the key to understanding what’s going on in a film if they cannot hear the audio, or if they rely on lipreading (which is impossible when watching a movie).
The current situation
Cinemas only show 1-3% of films with subtitles, and of these films, they are often at unsociable times and during the week, when we have school/work. Those who don’t rely on subtitles have around 97% choice of which film they get to see, and at a time convenient to them, people with hearing loss cannot.
Subtitled films are rarely shown in the opening week, and subtitled trailers are even rarer when a subtitled film is on.
There are 11 million people in the UK with some level of hearing loss, many of whom would like to visit the cinema but cannot due to the lack of subtitled screenings.
A brief bit about me…
I’m Ellie, also known as Deafie Blogger and I was born in East Anglia! I write blogs about my life as a profoundly deaf person; www.deafieblogger.com . I’m passionate about deaf awareness and deaf rights and I’m always looking to improve access for D/deaf people and people with hearing loss. I also write blogs for Phonak HearingLikeMe and British Deaf News.
I have a profound hearing loss and I love watching films. I’ve only been to my local cinema in Norwich about 15 times in the past 21 years, due to the lack of subtitled showings and I’d love to go more often.
The restricted number of subtitled films means I miss out on family cinema outings, friends’ birthday trips to the cinema, and instead I have to wait for the DVD to come out, where I can watch it with subtitles. It’s a horrible, isolating feeling but I am motivated to do something about it!
My motivation for change
We should have the freedom to go to the cinema like our hearing peers, to see the latest films. We’re not asking for all films to be subtitled, simply…
At least a few subtitled showings of each film in each cinema every week, at reasonable times and days
More subtitled films in the opening week
Subtitled trailers included when available
I want to change this so we can bring people with hearing loss back to the cinema, and make it a fun, accessible experience.
According to Action on Hearing Loss; ‘By 2035, it’s estimated there'll be around 15.6 million people with hearing loss across the UK - that's one in five’… so this campaign for increased subtitled cinema access is not just for us, but for the next generation of people with hearing loss.
I created a petition a year ago to campaign for ‘cinemas to show more subtitled films at reasonable times’, and recently has reached over 9000 signatures which I’m chuffed about! We still have a long way to go, so I’d really appreciate it if you could sign and share it too.
I’ve worked tirelessly these past few months to contact different cinemas and gathering evidence, with the incredible support from Michelle Hedley and Deaf Girly, among many others. If you want to find out more, click here.
We secured a meeting with the UK Cinema Association and look forward to further discussions with cinema representatives on how we can improve subtitled cinema access for people with hearing loss. But we still appreciate your support, so here’s how you can help!
Share your experiences… good or bad!
I’d love to hear your experiences about subtitled cinema, good or bad. You can tweet your experiences on Twitter using #subtitledcinema or drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can contact your local cinema’s Manager to share your experiences and ask them to put more subtitled screenings on, everything helps! We need to show them that there’s demand!