14 Sept 2017


I am a huge film fanatic. I've had an unlimited card for my local cinema for over a year now, and I go at least once a week. It's my me time, a time when I can just relax and not have to talk to anyone whilst also enjoying a range of different film genres. There's one thing that I don't enjoy about going to the cinema though, and that's the lack of subtitles.


I've suffered from hearing loss since I was a baby, and had to have grommets as I was growing up. My hearing has been deteriorating again lately and I'm currently waiting to get some support for this. One of the parts of hearing loss that really affects me on a daily basis is that I really struggle to watch films, or anything on television if there are no subtitles available. I mostly watch things on Netflix or Amazon Prime, so subtitles aren't a problem when it comes to watching older releases, but when it comes to watching films at the cinema I generally have to watch them without the aid of subtitles...

I find that many people assume that because the cinema is loud, if you have hearing loss you can still enjoy the film and hear what is going on. This isn't the case as hearing is not just about volume. It has a lot more to do with pitch, and so no matter how loud you turn something up, you still cannot understand what is being said. At my local cinema, they only offer two showings of one single film a week with subtitles. These are on a Sunday afternoon, and early Monday evening. That is it. There are no other subtitled showings, and as I said it is just for one film a week. This means that I have to go along and see films without subtitles. Although I still thoroughly enjoy the films, I can't help but wonder what it is like for someone who can understand everything that is going on.

In order for me to fully understand and enjoy a film, I end up going to watch it multiple times. This is fine as I have an unlimited pass, but if I didn't it would work out very expensive. Sure I could just wait for the films to be released and watch them at home, but I love the whole cinema experience. I like being surrounded by other film lovers, and the smell of popcorn coming from the concessions stand. I like to see my favourite actors on the big screen, and it just isn't the same at home.

British cinemas are way behind American cinemas it seems. I've heard that they provide devices for every single screening which enable deaf and hard of hearing people to access subtitles. For every single film! If they can provide this, why are British cinemas only allowing those with hearing loss to watch a film once a week with subtitles? It's great that British cinemas offer audio description for all showings, but what about subtitles for every showing. I understand that hearing people generally do not like having subtitles on their screen, but if there are devices available which allow for subtitles for an individual then why are they not available for people over here?

Okay, so you are probably thinking I'm trying to make something out of nothing here, but I promise you I am not. I LOVE cinema, but I would love it even more if I could actually understand what was happening in the films I was seeing. It's all about accessibility and allowing everyone to have a full cinema experience. I would just love it if there were at least a few more showing with subtitles, at more accessible times. I want to see the latest films on release night and understand what is going on, and not have to watch it a week later on a Sunday afternoon.

So if anyone within the cinema industry is reading, please can we look into more ways to make British cinemas more accessible for deaf and hard of hearing people? I'm sure you'll make lots of people very happy!


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