Ashley Smith-Hammond

Some cinemas are offering disabled users fantastic experiences whilst others are barely covering the basics. Providing good accessibility is both ethical and good for business.

Here are our top three tips to help you make some quick changes in your venue and ensure you have an accessible cinema.

Make it easy to book and collect tickets

Make sure your cinema offers a variety of ways to book tickets including over the phone, face-to-face and over the internet. When it comes to ticket collection, check that there’s plenty of space for a wheelchair to get up to the window or collection point and that visitors can talk to staff there from a seated position. Simply making sure someone is available to help at the ticket desk throughout the day will go a long way to making the cinema more accessible.

Make all spaces and screenings accessible for all

It’s not enough to ensure that the foyer has a ramp and that there are disabled toilets. Good access means providing wheelchair accessible seating throughout the movie theatre, so that friends and families can sit together. Consider areas where queues may occur at busy times, and don’t forget about the cafés and snack areas too.

You need to consider the screenings themselves as well. Provide diverse screening types including captioned, audio described, BSL-interpreted and relaxed film screenings and make sure these are well advertised.

Empower your staff

Finally, make sure your staff are aware of and understand how to direct people to the accessibility improvements you’ve provided. Good training will help your staff get to grips with what they need to know about the access solutions you’ve put in place, so that they in turn can help your audiences.

You can ease the training process by adding things like knowledge of accessible toilets, lifts and step-free routes to their induction. Good training will make your staff more mindful of the needs of your visitors and improve everyone’s experience at the cinema.

For more detail of what you can do to remove barriers for disabled visitors download our Disability Population Profile.

And, for even more specialist support on accessible cinema, we like these resources from the Independent Cinema Office.

Many of the suggestions in this series are not art-form specific. Check out the other articles on festivals, museums and galleries, theatres and gigs.

Main image credit: Everyman Cinema, Muswell Hill by Philafrenzy (CC BY-SA 4.0)