...the development of a solution that will allow people with hearing loss to have a more inclusive cinema experience ... help to find a suitable commercial partner to develop and create a market-ready product ... cinemas committed to trialing any viable solutions ... full IP ownership ... a percentage of the revenue from product sales. ... potential routes to European and International markets ... People working alone, or in collaboration with others welcome to apply ...
"Accessible, subtitled/captioned cinema shows provide social benefits such as equality and inclusion. For a few hours, the disabling barrier is removed, enabling film fans with hearing loss to enjoy, rather than endure the cinema experience"
£75,000 CINEMA SUBTITLING CHALLENGE FUND!
The UK cinema industry will support the development of a solution that will allow people with hearing loss to have a more inclusive cinema experience. Up to £75,000 is available to support innovative projects in this competition.
Should a suitable and viable product be developed that the UK cinema industry approves and meets the desired criteria set out in the aims and objectives (below), 'Action on Hearing Loss' will help to find a suitable commercial partner to develop and create a market-ready product. The three largest UK cinema chains (Odeon, Cineworld and Vue) are committed to trialing any viable solutions arising from this process and there are potential routes to European and International markets (such a solution could also provide foreign language subtitle tracks - a vast and currently untapped market). The successful applicant will have full Intellectual Property (IP) ownership and will take a percentage of the revenue from product sales.
Closing date for applications is Friday 28 September 2018. People working alone, or in collaboration with others, in organisations of any size are welcome to apply. The fund is open to anyone who can demonstrate their capabilities in this field by completing an application form, and attending a launch workshop in London on 10 Oct 2018, and further events later in the process as appropriate. (No travel bursary or financial assistance is available from the Fund).
The general experience of UK cinemas is that the broader audience does not wish to attend subtitled screenings, and will avoid them if given the choice, resulting in significantly lower attendances for separate, 'on-screen' subtitled shows. Cinemas are reluctant to schedule subtitled screenings widely, and in particular at peak viewing times, resulting in limited choice of films and shows. Expectations regarding improved access understandably continue to increase.
The ideal solution cannot be prohibitively expensive - it must:
• Allow people to view subtitles without disturbing other viewers who do not want to view subtitles;
• Be financially viable for cinemas to install and use;
• Be easy to use for both the cinema and audience member;
• Be robust enough to withstand repeated use, and capable of straightforward maintenance;
• Utilise subtitle files that are affordable for film distribution companies, and are compatible with existing cinema infrastructure and technology.
Up to £75,000 is available to support innovative projects in this competition. This is initially divided across two phases:
Phase 1 up to £25,000 available (to a limit of £5,000 per project);
Phase 2 up to £50,000 available (to a limit of £25,000 per project)
You will be expected to demonstrate the technical feasibility of your proposed innovation. Projects can range in size up to a total cost of £5,000. Proposals must be completed within eight weeks.
Phase 1 applicants will be invited to a ‘development workshop’ at which they can refine and discuss their initial ideas with industry experts.
Phase 1 proposals will be judged by an independent panel which will be supported by technical peer review.
Phase 2 is only open to applicants that have completed Phase 1 and successfully demonstrated that their concept is technically feasible. In Phase 2, you will develop and test a working prototype in a ‘real life’ cinema. Projects can range in size up to £25,000 and can last up to six months.
Phase 2 applicants will be given access to a cinema to allow testing during the development of the prototype and will have access to a technical expert to help ensure that the final solution is technically compatible with existing cinema infrastructure.
Phase 2 proposals will be judged by an independent panel.
A showcase event will be held at the end of the process at which successful prototypes will be demonstrated to relevant stakeholders, including people with hearing loss, cinema operators and potential partners able to support the commercialisation and/or adoption of the most promising solution.
June – September: Application to express interest to be involved
October: Launch workshop
November: Development paper for Phase 1 grant
December: £5,000 Phase 1 grants awarded
February: Phase 1 closes
April: £25,000 Phase 2 grants awarded
September: Phase 2 closes
November: Showcase event
A panel of film industry professionals, an Action On Hearing Loss patron, and people with hearing loss will help guide and provide input at every stage of the Fund to ensure that the chosen solution meets the required criteria.
To apply, please download and complete the PDF application form HERE
Please return completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org
"The goal is a solution that hearing-impaired customers can use to give a better overall experience"
More info: ChallengeFundArticle.pdf
YourLocalCinema - Report on UK Accessible Cinema
"Inclusion can mean different things to different people. A person with hearing loss may feel included when hearing people join that person at a screening where subtitles are on-screen, for all to see. A hearing person may feel they are being inclusive by providing an adaptive aid that enables the person with hearing loss to join them in a regular, non-subtitled show"
Accessible cinema shows have made a positive, cultural, long-term impact on society. They benefit people of all ages. Each year in the UK, hundreds of children are born with significant hearing loss (NDCS). It's estimated that more than ten million, including thousands of young people, have hearing loss (AOHL). Our society is ageing, and with ageing, loss of some hearing is inevitable. Access to film - via subtitles - is something that we may all appreciate, eventually.
Before 2000, the only way people with hearing loss could enjoy cinema was to watch a foreign-language film. Today, thanks to collaborative work between the UK film industry, YourLocalCinema, and charities representing disabled people, most cinemas are accessible. Thousands of customers with hearing loss regularly attend cinemas with their friends & families.
The UK cinema industry is determined to help ensure that people with hearing loss can enjoy the cinema experience. It continually investigates developments in the area of accessible cinema. A percentage of income from the industry's ‘Carer goes free’ discount card scheme is allocated to be spent on cinema access schemes. (Last year more than 120,000 disabled people purchased the £6.00 cards).
In 2017, the UK Cinema Association Annual Report stated 'a significant amount of time was spent on issues around disability and access, with the aim of maintaining and enhancing the reputation of the UK sector as a World leader in accessibility ... The Association remains hugely grateful to all of those that support its work on these important issues, and who help to make the cinema-going experience as enjoyable and accessible as possible for all disabled customers'
UK legislation requires that cinemas make what are called ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable customers with hearing loss to enjoy the cinema. Currently, in the UK, this audience group is only welcomed for specific shows, on specific days, at specific times. Convenient opportunities to attend are very limited. 98% of UK cinema shows are inaccessible to film fans with hearing loss. Of the 2% that ARE accessible, via subtitles, most are provided mid-week, before 6pm, when most people are attending jobs or in education. Fri/Sat evening accessible shows are practically non-existent.
'Personal' subtitle/caption adaptive aids - glasses, screens and smartphone apps - exist and are in use in cinemas in the US, Australia and some European countries. Some have been evaluated by the UK cinema industry. Although all these solutions can significantly increase access to the cinema for customers who need subtitling, not one fully meets the criteria set out in the key objectives of the UK industry's 'Challenge Fund'.
Utilising its unique database of UK film-fans with sensory loss, YourLocalCinema has helped the BFI, UKCA and others to round up attendees and focus group participants for full-house film industry events to address both the fiscal and technical challenges of these products. Feedback and views of attendees to these events continue to help shape the future of UK accessible cinema.
The BFI is a UK public body which awards money raised from the sale of National Lottery tickets to film-related projects. Last year it received around £97m from the Lottery and awarded £48 million to film-related projects (including £14,000 to YourLocalCinema). Since 2011 it has awarded more than £220 million. The BFI has recommended the UK cinema industry improve access to film fans with hearing or sight loss.
Its 2002 report stated: 'Evidence from the USA suggests that legislation and the market alone will not deliver the kind of widespread access which cinema patrons with sensory loss need and want ... things required to make it happen: A level of investment which creates critical mass in the market place ... Open [on-screen] captions means a limited number of screenings. What is important is that such screenings are regular and well publicised'. It recommended: 'R&D funding to help develop a personal device which can work alongside existing digital open systems. The reaction of hearing audiences to open subtitles should be formally tested with a view to determining an ‘acceptable level’ of open screenings ... Continue to monitor customer feedback ... financially support YourLocalCinema'
The recommendations above helped create the UK's first Cinema Access Scheme. The success of the scheme, which was mostly England-based, helped to introduce similar schemes to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (In 2004 YourLocalCinema became the official 'marketing arm' for all of those schemes, growing the audience for accessible cinema along the way).
YourLocalCinema has since helped research and produce many industry reports. The BFI 'Study of cinema access and film consumption for audiences with sensory impairments' report stated: '83% of people with hearing loss said they would attend cinema regularly if a nearby cinema had accessible nshows at convenient times'. Recommendations: 'Increase choice of films, showtimes, number of films ... Establish industry standards ... Promote efficient advertising ... Further investigation of the potential for a personal solution'
The UKFC/BFI 'Diversity Report': 'ensure that equality and diversity commitments are fully integrated ... enable all groups within our society to participate in and enjoy film culture .. ensure full and equal access to film for disabled people, particularly as audiences'
The BFI 'Disability Equality Scheme': 'access, inclusion and diversity issues to become mainstreamed'
The 'Peer Review of the UK Film Council', commissioned by the DCMS: 'improve access and inclusion for all '
BFI 'Policy and funding priorities for the next three years' consultation: Around 1,000 responses received, including a 'strong showing of responses from deaf and blind people and their representatives, calling for continued support for accessible screenings in cinemas'
An ICO report funded by the BFI’s Film Audience Network: ‘more could be done for people who are affected by deafness ... create real change so that the cinema can be the same transformative experience as it is for hearing patrons’
The latest BFI ‘2022’ report: ‘BFI is committed to ensuring that the cinema experience is open to all, especially to disabled audiences ... we have placed diversity and inclusion at the heart of our objectives ... clearly a moral imperative for society generally ... work with partners to ensure that all audiences have the opportunity to enjoy film ... Film has the power to engage all sections of society ... Inequality in access to culture is bad for business and bad for society'
Its 2017-18 'Risk Register' stated 'there's a risk that the reputation of the BFI, in relation to diversity and inclusion, as the lead body for film will be tarnished of it fails to deliver its diversity commitments as set out in its BFI2022 report'
Its 2017 annual report states: 'Using funding from the National Lottery, the BFI Audience Fund is underpinned by our desire to boost diversity and inclusivity ... recognise and value the quality of difference ... seek to rebalance under-representation in audiences ... opportunities for everyone to engage in film as part of an audience ... we are urgently addressing barriers in the film industry around inclusion ... increase access and participation for those sections of society who do not currently benefit from opportunities available in the UK ... BFI aims to ensure that equality and diversity are central to all activities thus allowing sections of society to have access to or benefit from funding ... One of the strengths of the BFI cultural programme is its inventive capability of accenting inclusion and diversity ... Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our strategy ... BFI aims to ensure that equality and diversity are central to all activities ... support & encourage cultural diversity ... improve community cohesion and/ or social inclusion ... Where awards are made in relation to feature film production or distribution projects the BFI should take into account the need to improve public access to film through the use of audio-description and/or subtitling for the hard of hearing. All relevant projects in receipt of this type of funding are required, contractually, to comply with these conditions'
YourLocalCinema suggestions (originally from 2010): 'the UK film industry puts out a call - a news-worthy competition with a contract at the end of it - for anyone - current solution providers, as well as tech developers etc, to come up with a fair-priced, easy-to-install, reliable, consumer-friendly solution ... many eager start-ups would give it a go ... take on a challenge to sort out a problem ... get companies and bits of tech together ... a new product, or an improved version of an existing product ... help thousands of people with hearing loss to enjoy the cinema experience ... An ideal 'personal subtitle' solution would be unobtrusive to the audience, auto-recognition of auditorium & film showing, user friendly, cinema-friendly, require no staff training, all-day battery, work from every seat - wide wi-fi range, be practically unbreakable, not worth stealing, be simple and inexpensive to produce, damaged/missing parts must be able to be replaced cheaply ... or an industry-approved, auto-dim/silence smartphone app ... each cinema would need to hold 10 units or more. Cinemas could accommodate larger groups by planning in advance and borrowing/renting more personal units. With thousands of accessible shows to choose from weekly, the audience will be dispersed. It’s unlikely that more than a handful of deaf people will attend each screening. At a reasonable price point, it would cost less than one year's 'captioned/subtitled' ticket sales to make all UK multiplex cinemas accessible' [Updated]: In 2017 there were more than a million admissions to these accessible shows. £8m+ worth of tickets.
If successful, the UK ‘trial’ could be expanded, to include other countries ... Cinema industry engage in mutually beneficial negotiation with technology companies, to utilise ‘multi-language’ solutions, to enable under-served, untapped audiences to enjoy cinema ... The content is there (multi-language subtitle tracks). The audience is there (tens of thousands of film fans - UK residents and visiting Europeans - whose first language is not English, as well as people with hearing loss ... inject funds to help utilise the latest ‘access’ tech to enable more people to enjoy the cinema experience ... promote cultural diversity and improve consumers’ access ... new ways to engage audiences ... enable under-served audiences to share the cinema experience with others ... remove barriers for thousands of people ... improve choice and enhance the overall value of the cinema experience from the perspective of the customer.
... If/when personal subtitle solutions are introduced to UK cinemas, there will be a huge increase in accessible shows. From 1,000+ weekly to almost 100,000 weekly. Some on-screen, open captioned/subtitled shows (the current, preferred access method) should remain. New acronyms will need to be introduced to clearly indicate the different kinds of accessible shows. In the US, the acronyms 'OC' and 'CC' are used: 'OC' for on-screen, open captions, and 'CC' for personal, closed captions. The cinema DCP naming convention uses similar acronyms (OCAP, CCAP).
... Accurate, targeted listings of accessible shows should be an integral part of any subtitle solution company's sales strategy. Market the BENEFITS of the product, rather than the product itself, directly to the target audience - film fans with hearing loss'
Last year was the most lucrative year ever for UK cinemas. £1.3 billion box office (ComScore). More than 800 films were released. More than 20 UK film distributors spent around £500,000 producing almost 200 subtitle/caption/narration tracks to enable cinemas to provide accessible shows from release date.
Last year more than 70 cinema companies provided more than 75,000 English-language subtitled shows of almost 200 films in more than 500 cinemas across the UK & Ireland. Three cinema companies provided around 85% of accessible shows. In 2017 there were more than a million admissions to accessible shows. £8m+ worth of tickets. Attendance to accessible shows has tripled over the last decade. An estimated 6m tickets - £35m worth - have been issued to date.
All cinemas can be accessible. All can screen films with subtitles/captions to enable customers with hearing loss to enjoy the cinema experience with family and friends. All can screen all films on the YourLocalCinema website with subtitles.
Films are provided to cinemas on a USB drive, or by satellite. Subtitles are set to ‘on’ for particular scheduled shows. Some cinemas provide one accessible show a week. Some provide three or four. Cinemas prefer to SCHEDULE subtitled shows a week or more in advance, so everyone knows a particular show is subtitled. Cinemas prefer NOT to provide subtitles ‘on demand’ because that show will have been listed as NOT subtitled, and people may have already booked tickets to see that show without subtitles.
Accessible shows: https://www.yourlocalcinema.com
Notes: For some 3D and Imax versions, cinemas need to request the tracks from the studio/distributor that produced them.
Although subtitle tracks are produced for EVERY film, in time for the home entertainment release, smaller films from smaller distributors, and most 'live theatre/concert shows' rarely include a subtitle track on the cinema release.
Some film trailers are also provided to cinemas with a subtitle track. (All cinema trailers COULD be accessible in this way).
Although all can provide on-screen subtitles, outdoor & drive-in cinemas rarely welcome film fans with hearing loss.
LIMITED AUDIENCE + LIMITED CHOICE = LIMITED ATTENDANCE
To enable people with hearing loss to participate in activities and spend money can be costly, simply because the number of users of such facilities is limited. Although it's estimated that more than ten million people in the UK have hearing loss, many are 60 or over and don’t attend cinema as often as they used to. The number of potential cinema-goers that require subtitles for their film enjoyment is a tiny percentage of the 'regular' audience. This factor severely limits attendance.
To enable this niche group to enjoy its service, UK cinemas provide 'open-captioned/subtitled' shows (where subtitles are presented on-screen, for all audience members to see). Most people that don't need subtitles will avoid these infrequent, usually off-peak shows, and instead attend regular, non-subtitled shows, of which there are always many to choose from each week. (A cinema is unlikely to lose a ticket sale by providing a few subtitled shows each week).
Because most people attend cinemas at the weekend, in the evenings, most cinemas are almost empty mid-week daytimes and most evenings. Overall, each week, less than half of available cinema seats are sold.
Only a small percentage of cinema customers require subtitles for their film enjoyment, and it's unlikely that a significant number will turn up to the same location, at the same time, to watch one off-peak screening of a particular film, chosen for them by the cinema. Although most people with hearing loss attend cinema shows with friends, partners, or family members, the average attendance to a subtitled show is only around a third of that of a regular, non-subtitled show of the same film at a similar time.
Because attendance will be down considerably, most cinemas prefer NOT to welcome customers with hearing loss in the busiest periods. Convenient opportunities to attend are very limited. 98% of UK cinema shows are inaccessible to film fans with hearing loss. Of the 2% that ARE accessible, via subtitles, most are provided mid-week, before 6pm, when most people are attending jobs or in education. Fri/Sat evening accessible shows are practically non-existent.
The above limiting factors are reflected in overall admissions. For subtitled shows, a lower-than-usual turnout is to be expected. 2017 data from hundreds of UK cinemas indicates that the nationwide mean average attendance is 15 per show (the figure varies and roughly correlates with the surrounding population of each cinema - many London subtitled shows have 50+ in attendance). Overall, nationwide, attendance is around a third of that of a regular, non-subtitled show in a similar time-slot.
"There are not enough disabled people out there to make accessible shows economically-viable!"
Every week, YourLocalCinema promotes around 1,500 accessible, subtitled shows, which is around £170,000 worth of cinema tickets - a tiny percentage of the weekly £20 million box office revenue.
"It may not always be economically-viable for service providers to welcome customers with hearing or sight loss, or physical disabilities - to provide 'access' features such as audio/text info, disabled toilets/parking spaces, ramps, elevators and wheelchair spaces. Accessible, subtitled shows at peak times are less economically-viable than regular peak-time shows. To provide an accessible peak-time show, a cinema may have to put purpose before profit - forego potential extra income"
Limited box office revenue may prevent smaller film distributors from investing in future subtitle/caption/narration 'access' tracks for their films. Although the largest film companies ensure that the most popular films are provided to cinemas with subtitle tracks, overall less than half of the 500+ English-language films released each year have subtitle tracks.
"A limited audience, with a limited choice of accessible films and showtimes, limits opportunities to attend, which limits box office revenue"
With sensible scheduling and targeted marketing, subtitled shows CAN be profitable. Over the years YourLocalCinema has collaborated with a variety of cinemas, outdoor events and film festivals to help round up thousands for well-attended subtitled shows. Last year almost 700 attended a well-promoted, peak-time, outdoor subtitled screening of the latest Star Wars film. And more than 1,000 attended THREE well-promoted subtitled 3D screenings of the same film. One of the shows at the 450+ seat central London cinema was completely sold out. To ensure that customers didn't attend these well-promoted shows accidentally (it happens...) the shows were clearly indicated as subtitled on the cinema website, as well as on the box office tills, and on notices throughout the foyer. Also, the YourLocalCinema.com website had a direct link to the cinemas booking page for the shows. It's very likely that most that attended either did so on purpose (specifically for the subtitles), or they didn't mind the subtitles.
Note: Many attendees to subtitled shows don’t have hearing loss. Some customers accompany those with hearing loss. Some are not bothered if a chosen film/time happens to be an accessible show. Some often inadvertently purchase tickets to subtitled shows and ‘put up’ with the words on the screen, rather than leave. The lack of positive promotion in many cinemas may give some people the impression that they are a negative ‘inconvenience’. Ideally they’d be promoted as a positive, useful feature for many.
When it comes to accessible film, the larger film companies (Disney, Fox, WB etc) ensure that all their films are accessible via subtitle/caption tracks. In the home entertainment market, people with hearing loss enjoy great access to film. All popular films are delivered with user-selectable, on-demand subtitles on TV, disc and online (even pirate sites).
But cinemas could do better. Although subtitle tracks are available for popular films, and included on every copy of the film sent to cinemas, 98% of UK cinema shows are inaccessible to film fans with hearing loss. Of the 2% that ARE accessible, via subtitles, most are provided mid-week, before 6pm, when most people are attending jobs or in education. Fri/Sat evening accessible shows are practically non-existent.
Recent feedback from thousands of film fans with hearing loss indicates that 96% would attend more if accessible shows were provided at more convenient times.
Doubling or trebling the number of OFF-PEAK subtitled shows may increase opportunities to attend cinemas - without affecting a cinemas profits (off-peak shows are practically empty most days) - but such an increase would not satisfy the needs of most people with hearing loss. Most people would like to see a film of their choosing, at a convenient time that suits (which is often PEAK time).
A cinema promotion such as an ‘Unlimited’ card, that allows as many visits as a customer desires, for a monthly fee, is not suited to a service that is very limited. The average film fan with hearing loss may have only one chance per month to catch a film at a UK cinema. An 'unlimited card' would need to cost a fraction of the current cost to make it worthwhile for film fans with hearing loss.
"Unlimited cards are no use. Imagine you were in a wheelchair. You have bought an annual train pass, but only 2% of trains have disabled ramp facilities, which you need to get on and off the train. So you miss the train - almost every day"
There are many inclusive ways to increase opportunities for people with hearing loss to attend cinemas: Cinemas could provide many accessible, subtitled shows of many films at convenient, peak times. Or, because most cinemas are almost empty mid-week (less than half of available seats are sold), a cinema could provide subtitles on all shows on a particular day of the week. One UK cinema has trialled 'Subtitled Mondays' for a year and found that attendance is not much different than the following day, for regular, non-subtitled shows of the same films. Recently, Mamma Mia 2 and Incredibles 2 were sold out Mon and Tues. Most people that attend the subtitled shows don't have hearing loss - they simply don't mind subtitles. (It helps that the cinema promotes subtitles as a good, positive thing). All shows are inclusive and accessible. All can be enjoyed by people with or without hearing problems.
Or cinemas could allocate one of its screens to be used exclusively for subtitled shows - all the latest films, all days, all times, accessible. Currently, only around 2% of cinema shows are accessible. If half of the UK's 800 cinemas ensured that subtitles were always 'switched on', in ONE SCREEN ONLY (the smallest of an average of nine screens), 10% of the UK's 4,000 screens would be accessible (400 screens in 400 multiplex cinemas). With five or six shows daily, the number of accessible shows would increase from 1,500 weekly to almost 15,000 weekly. Almost TEN TIMES as many opportunities to attend. All shows in all these screens would be inclusive and accessible. All could be enjoyed by people with or without hearing problems. Only 90% of UK cinema shows would be inaccessible, rather than 98%.
"To those that are disturbed by accessible subtitled shows: Think of it like this: You pull into a small cinema car park, no spaces, except for a disabled bay, which you can’t use, because you don’t have a disabled badge. So you hang around, wait for a space, or come back later, or tomorrow, or go to another car park. Lots of options. No big deal. But it would be a very big, miserable deal for a wheelchair user if there were NO disabled spaces!"
INCLUSIVE / ADAPTIVE SOLUTIONS TO CINEMA ACCESS
"Inclusion can mean different things to different people. A person with hearing loss may feel included when hearing people join that person at a screening where subtitles are on-screen, for all to see. A hearing person may feel they are being inclusive by providing an adaptive aid that enables the person with hearing loss join them in a regular, non-subtitled show"
US and Australian cinemas have (with the help of human rights laws) transitioned from 'on-screen' subtitles (the current UK method) to subtitle glasses and seat-mounted displays. These 'adaptive aids' enable cinemas to offer a vastly increased choice of accessible shows. Subtitles are invisible to the general audience - only the wearer/user sees them. In theory, with a personal subtitle solution, ALL shows can be accessible. All can be enjoyed by people with or without hearing problems.
The National Theatre in London is currently trialling subtitle glasses, as part of its efforts to reach more people and widen the diversity and range of its theatre audience. It's hoped that the glasses will increase opportunities for people with hearing loss to attend. “This is transformative … many, many more people will be able to enjoy our shows” (Jonathan Suffolk, technical director).
Smartphones can also be personal access solutions, via a variety of free apps. Some European cinemas allow these apps to be used (if dimmed and silent) but as yet, no official infrastructure is in place to synchronise/stream a subtitle track from a cinema server to a phone.
An Italian cinema has utilised smart glasses in conjunction with a smartphone app to display subtitles, to enable its customers with hearing loss to enjoy films.
Most personal adaptive aids can also receive audio description (AD) tracks, via a standard headphone socket, enabling customers with sight loss to use their own, familiar, regular headphones to experience the isolated AD narration track, rather than the current choice of cinema-supplied, over-the-ear headphones (which can block out the 'regular' film soundtrack that's delivered via cinema surround speakers). In 2017 the UK cinema industry tested an audio description app that can also be utilised as a subtitles app.
A robust, stable personal adaptive aid could help reduce the number of scheduling/operational issues that can sometimes occur with 'special/out of the ordinary' shows. If a subtitle track is 'on', all of the time (but can only be seen by customers using a personal device), the chances of a member of staff failing to set it to 'on' for a scheduled show are reduced. Mistakes rarely happen (only a handful of the 1,500+ weekly English-language subtitled shows go wrong), but the consequences of an abruptly-cancelled show can be very serious. Customers that depend on subtitles for their film enjoyment can't just wait for the next show, or come back tomorrow, or next week. They will often have had only ONE chance to enjoy the film on the big screen. They may have travelled far and incurred costs.
The potential reach of personal subtitle solutions is huge. With built-in multi-language features, subtitles could be broadcast in a choice of languages that are popular in the UK. Feedback to YourLocalCinema: "This is not a complaint. Thought you might like to know of our experience attending a subtitled film in Salisbury. Upon arriving, having travelled 21 miles from home, there was a notice on the door stating, "Sorry, 'Theory of Everything' is sold out" ... Unfortunately for us, 93 Spanish language students had booked. Kind regards and thanks for all you do"
A personal 'always on' access solution would increase opportunities to attend cinema. It would also bring cinemas in line with home entertainment access levels. Eventually, accessible shows could be ubiquitous access facilities - like beeping traffic crossings, audio/text bus/train announcements, disabled toilets/parking spaces, ramps, elevators, wheelchair spaces etc.
"It is hoped that medical science will eventually decrease the amount of younger people with hearing loss. The potential audience for accessible cinema may never be substantial, but it's a paying audience, and its members expect and deserve to be treat as equals. It may take years, but ultimately, it's this appreciative audience that will fund any 'access' solution, via tickets & popcorn sales"
Film distributors financially support YourLocalCinema, which enables the online promotion of film trailers nationwide in an accessible, subtitled format:
Although subtitle tracks are routinely produced and available for ALL popular films, currently, for the majority of films, trailers screened in cinemas before subtitled shows are NOT subtitled, and therefore NOT accessible. Trailers COULD be produced and provided to cinemas with a subtitle track. This year, 20th Century Fox began to make them available.
If ALL cinema trailers were subtitled, not only would customers with hearing loss receive an equal service, they could also relax before a subtitled show… Every week, at some cinema, somewhere in the UK, a subtitle track for a scheduled subtitled show fails to appear on the screen. When this happens, audience members (that have paid for and expect a subtitled show) usually notice subtitles are missing as soon as the first words are spoken on screen. (Lips move, but no subtitles appear). This usually results in a frantic search for a member of staff to 'Switch the subtitles on!’ Usually, the film is restarted, the subtitles appear, and customers are satisfied. But sometimes - for whatever reason - the scheduled subtitled show continues to play WITHOUT subtitles, resulting in a very disgruntled customer, a wasted journey, a couple of free cinema passes, but NO other opportunity to catch the film on the big screen.
Ensuring that trailers are subtitled - and linked to the subtitled film about to play - would help to avoid the frustrating uncertainty: 'Will the film be subtitled?' In theory, if the trailer is subtitled, the film will be subtitled. If not, a customer could inform a member of staff, who would have time to resolve the issue before the main feature starts.
The YourLocalCinema LISTINGS & AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Service
“Accessibility is perhaps not the most exciting area of film, but knowing that a deaf child can follow the latest superhero or animated adventure on the big screen with their friends makes one feel good!”
YourLocalCinema began its audience-development work in 2000. What began as a grassroots, social enterprise effort 18 years ago, to enable a profoundly deaf child to socialise at cinemas with his friends, now helps drive 20,000+ people to 500+ cinemas weekly. It began by gathering the views of thousands of supporters of children with hearing loss. A nationwide petition in UK primary schools was organised, to help gauge the size of support for accessible cinema.
Extensive research clearly demonstrates that children of all ages, including pre-school, and those with language-based learning disabilities, can benefit from on-screen same-language subtitles. Subtitles can improve foundational reading and literacy skills, such as phonics, word recognition, vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension and fluency. Children's films tend to have less challenging vocabulary and are ideal for providing children with the literacy benefits of reading, while listening and watching. Most children's films include songs, and as children like to sing along to songs and are curious to know the song lyrics, reading skills are practiced subconsciously. Subtitled children's films at cinemas can boost literacy skills in a fun and engaging way.
The response to the YourLocalCinema petition was overwhelming. People nationwide expressed their wishes for deaf children in their community to enjoy the cinema experience with their peers. One school, with only 12 deaf pupils, gathered almost 1,500 signatures. The nationwide petition, along with early YourLocalCinema progress reports on accessible titles, shows and audiences, helped the UK film industry to recognise, and begin to cater for film fans with hearing loss. It helped BFI/UKFC research and compile its 2002 'Cinema Access Technologies for people with Sensory Impairments' report, which led directly to the UK's first Cinema Access Scheme.
In 2004, cinemas, film distributors, the BFI, the main cinema tech companies, and the main charities representing people with hearing or sight loss collaborated to financially-support YourLocalCinema's audience-development work. It became the official marketing arm of the Cinema Access Scheme.
Today, YourLocalCinema continues to collaborate with cinemas and distributors to help film fans with hearing loss to enjoy, rather than endure cinema. Most UK cinemas provide regular subtitled shows, and dozens provide subtitled 'kids shows', where families with a deaf or hard of hearing member can participate in inexpensive weekend/school holiday screenings. Many 'kids shows' are filled to capacity, an inclusive mixture of deaf & hearing children, siblings and parents. YourLocalCinema worked with the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) to help inform and build an audience for these shows. Customer comment: "Thanks very much to the cinemas for finally including my whole family at the movies! I have a deaf daughter who can now go to the cinema with us. The cinema makes money out of us now, as we spend on films and popcorn and drinks. We never used to bother before, we couldn't leave our deaf kid at home while we go and have fun, could we?"
YourLocalCinema continues to work with primary and secondary schools via film industry-supported group INTO Film, to help promote hundreds of subtitled shows in its annual film festival. Every year hundreds of students with disabilities attend. Information on accessible cinema is included in promotional material for the annual event. Distributed to every school in the UK, this creates mass awareness of access & inclusion amongst young people.
Every week, YourLocalCinema collaborates with 70+ cinema companies to promote 1,500+ English-language subtitled/captioned shows in 500+ UK & Ireland cinemas. An established, trusted brand, the audience-development agency has been building & growing a unique customer database of film fans with hearing loss for 18 years.
YourLocalCinema provides a unique service. Its ‘one click to all accessible shows nearby’ website & app recorded more than a million visits last year. It utilises targeted, localised marketing to promote accessible shows (and trailers) direct to a unique email/social media customer database of tens of thousands of film fans with hearing loss. YourLocalCinema helps drive 20,000+ people to 500+ cinemas weekly, which helps to offset losses that cinemas may incur providing separate, subtitled shows to a niche audience.
Last year, UK film distributors spent £500,000+ producing almost 200 subtitle/caption/narration tracks to enable cinemas to provide accessible shows from release date. More than 1m tickets - £8m+ worth - were issued to 75,000+ English-language subtitled shows. Attendance has tripled over the last decade. To date, an estimated 6m tickets - £35m worth - have been issued.
Financially supported by UK film distributors (via FDA), the award-winning, non-profit YourLocalCinema service is provided for FREE to cinemas. (The UK cinema industry ceased support in 2016).
YourLocalCinema is a non-profit service. To keep costs down and provide best value to its financial supporters, staff are mobile - one full-time (hearing), one part-time (deaf), each equipped with a laptop and smartphone. There are no office/rent/commute costs and website/communications costs are minimal. YourLocalCinema costs its supporters the equivalent of 2p from each of the 1m+ tickets issued to captioned shows last year. A cost equivalent to £1 per week from each cinema that provides captioned shows.
Originally the official marketing arm of the UK film industry’s Cinema Access Scheme, the established, trusted YLC service has been building & growing its unique customer database of film fans with hearing loss for 18 years.
In 2017 there were more than a million admissions to English-language subtitled/captioned shows. £8m+ worth of tickets. Enough to pay the UK’s entire 17,000 cinema industry workers a whole week’s wages. Or 400 annual salaries. One day's worth of 'captioned' tickets keeps YourLocalCinema running for a year. A 25,000%, better-than-popcorn return on investment!
The YourLocalCinema service is easy to use and easy to find. It's number one on Google for relevant terms such as ‘subtitled cinema’, beating all cinema websites, as well as such fine luminaries as Amazon, Wikipedia, BBC and YouTube. Film fans with hearing loss can find exactly what they're looking for in a few clicks, rather than trying to navigate a handful of separate, uncoordinated cinema websites, with dozens of clicks, in the hope of finding something that may not even be there.
For people that require subtitles for their film enjoyment, there’s often only one chance to catch a film at the cinema. When it comes to accessible listings, accuracy is very important. Every discrepancy, change or amendment is checked for accuracy before publication on the YourLocalCinema website. Many cinemas/distributors are contacted weekly to verify data. YourLocalCinema works cinema hours - mornings/afternoons/evenings, weekdays/weekends. Most issues - such as listings amendments (due to show cancellations/reschedules etc), or customer requests/complaints - are attended to within an hour.
The YourLocalCinema website & app receive more than a million visits annually. The main UK portal for accessible cinema, it has never been offline, and has never failed to deliver its weekly email newsletter to its subscribers.
YourLocalCinema is very guest-centric and offers a variety of accessible ways for customers with hearing loss to correspond directly, including text messaging, live chat, email and the latest social media outlets - Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. Excellent customer service with meaningful, engaging correspondence has helped to build trust in the YourLocalCinema brand. Many have been using the service for almost two decades.
Feedback clearly indicates that opportunities to attend accessible shows are very much appreciated by many. Click here for a selection of positive experiences from film fans who we have helped to discover - or rediscover - the joys of cinema-going:
YourLocalCinema has helped to build, grow and support a once under-served audience. It provides a valuable service to the UK film industry by gathering and maintaining up-to-date market intelligence on everything cinema access-related. YourLocalCinema serves and engages with film fans that have hearing loss, gathers access-related audience data, analytics and valuable feedback, to better understand customers needs. Feedback - good and bad - is often in real-time, thanks to customer smartphones.
In 2001, YourLocalCinema became a member of the UK film industry's 'Disability Working Group' (DWG) think-tank, a group of strategic importance in the nurturing & development of audiences for accessible cinema. A strong network of all main cinema companies & film distributors, the main groups that represent disabled people, and others in the field of access, the DWG meets regularly with the aim to make cinema more accessible to people with disabilities. YourLocalCinema has produced many reports for this group, BFI and others, on accessible titles, cinema screenings and audiences. The reports provide a detailed picture of performance, enabling the UK film industry to review almost two decades of progress. This data helps the industry better understand the economic and social context of accessible cinema, helps set and achieve goals and objectives, to aid development of policy and strategy.
YourLocalCinema continues to provide data to UK and international researchers and consultants, to be used in articles and presentations. It has helped film, arts and cultural organisations worldwide to develop access solutions and build audiences. It helped Australian access groups plan and set up a temporary, two-year 'YourLocalCinema.AU' website, as part of a comprehensive program to provide accessible cinema in Australia.
YourLocalCinema has rounded-up and provided participants with sensory loss for, amongst others, the International Disability Film Festival at the BFI Southbank; the Times BFI London Film Festival; A Q&A on access held at BFI Southbank on behalf of Film London; An audio description event for Disney; and focus group attendees for various events/demos with online questionnaires to record feedback.
YourLocalCinema is proud to work with cinemas and film companies to help ensure that people with sensory loss can enjoy the cinema experience. It’s extremely grateful to UK film distributors for financial support. Without it, the service could not continue to help people with disabilities enjoy the cinema experience. You can read about supporters and visit their websites here:
ENGAGING THE AGEING AUDIENCE
From next year, YourLocalCinema aims to work closely with groups representing older people and community cinemas nationwide to help welcome our ageing society back to the cinema that they enjoyed earlier in life. To help them socialise and meet new (and old) friends. Watching a film and chatting about issues afterwards can be a useful social activity.
In the UK, more than half of people over 70 live alone. Almost a quarter of a million are socially isolated; they rarely or never leave their home. This can lead to loneliness. And loneliness can bring poor physical and mental health. Hobby and activity clubs can improve the wellbeing of older people and help combat social loneliness. Regular 'movie afternoons' can bring older people - many of whom have lost a lifelong partner - together.
It's estimated that more than ten million people in the UK have some level of hearing loss and about two million have significant sight loss. Almost all people over 60 have some degree of age-related sensory loss. Fact is, with ageing, sensory impairment is inevitable...
The majority of those with hearing loss make use of subtitles/captions for their TV/film enjoyment. More than 90% of those with sight loss can see something - it’s not totally dark. To ensure that no-one would feel left out, to enable older people with hearing or sight loss to enjoy films in a social group, YourLocalCinema would like to help community cinemas to provide accessible screenings, where all films have on-screen captions/subtitles and/or a voice-over narration (both features are included on most popular cinema and home entertainment format titles).
Community cinemas can be more affordable than outings to a local multiplex. Although most cinemas cater very well for older people - providing wheelchair access, elevators, disabled toilets, disabled parking, and for those with hearing or sight loss, captioned/subtitled and narrated (audio described) screenings too - cost is an issue. Group outings can cost too much and can be quite a logistical challenge.
These days many films feature characters and storylines that appeal to an older, more discerning audience - people aged 50-75, who now form the UK's highest spending age group. Many so-called 'new oldies' are wealthier, fitter, more active than previous generations, making the most of their lives and spending their money. Participation in hobby or activity clubs offers one way to improve their wellbeing. And as our population continues to age, this trend - and the opportunity for film screenings - can only increase and broaden.
The demographic balance between young and old is shifting. YourLocalCinema feels that cinema needs to change, to sustain the engagement of a potentially large 'ageing' audience.
"SEE the dialogue! HEAR the action! It's the accessible cinema experience!"
Feedback clearly indicates that opportunities to attend accessible shows are very much appreciated by many. Here's a selection of positive experiences from film fans who we have helped to discover - or rediscover - the joys of cinema-going:
“Ah, Star Wars returns, I can't wait. This new trilogy better have subtitles because I've lost a considerable amount of hearing since the last one! I watched the original in the cinema with my Dad when I was a kid, and watched the later ones with my kid”
“I am nearly totally deaf and need subtitles to watch tv or films. Subtitles at the cinema ... without them I could not have the big screen experience. I love the whole cinema thing; popcorn, fizzy drink, comfy VIP seats and the wow of the big screen! Without subtitled cinema, watching big new films would not be the same! It cannot be duplicated by tv. Thank you for the brilliant experience!”
“Last night I thoroughly enjoyed a film for the first time in my life … Without the audio description explaining what was going on the story, with its many long dialogue-free scenes would have been lost on me. It was absolutely gripping. I was on the edge of my seat! I really felt like I was up there with the characters. It was a wonderful experience”
Much more feedback here: https://www.yourlocalcinema.com/quote.html
YourLocalCinema's twitter feed receives regular 'retweets' from companies/people with a high number of Twitter followers, which helps to publicise accessible cinema far and wide, which leads to many more people visiting the YourLocalCinema website, and signing up for the weekly email/twitter newsletter.
Recent 'retweets': @WarwickADavis (Star Wars actor) “What a brilliant service! Respect to you for taking the time to make cinema accessible to all” (Retweeted to more than 680,000 followers); @cineworld (290,000); @ODEONcinemas (220,000); @BBCFilms (195,000).
Together, email and twitter help YourLocalCinema reach many thousands of film fans each week.
AN AWARD-WINNING SERVICE!
As well as providing an accessible listings service, YourLocalCinema gathers and maintains up-to-date market intelligence on everything cinema access-related, including audience data, analytics and valuable customer feedback & surveys. It has been successful in winning some high-profile awards voted for by the public and its peers in the UK film industry. Winning awards helps to spread awareness of 'accessible' cinema.
The BKSTS 'Samuelson' Award recognises and rewards the efforts & achievements of companies that have embraced technology or enhanced accessibility to ensure that cinema exhibition is available to all people.
The Daily Mail 'People's Choice' Enterprise Award. The event, hosted by the Institute of Directors, recognises people who have turned their ideas into reality. Thousands of Daily Mail newspaper readers voted for the twenty finalists and YourLocalCinema received the most votes overall.
The @diversity European 'Access Culture' Award. Implemented by the European Commission and presented at the EU Culture Forum in Brussels, the awards celebrate innovative ways of using technology to make culture more accessible across Europe. More than 250 projects were submitted.
The Barco 'Innovation in Cinema' Award. Part of the 'Raam Awards', which recognise and reward the efforts & achievements of people working in the UK film industry.
The British Telecom 'Remote Workers' Award honours people who manage to run a successful business without an office, using mobile technology. Judges selected the winner based on the company that demonstrated how remote working had created the greatest positive impact.
Finalist: The National Lottery Awards recognise the difference that lottery-funded projects have made to local communities. YourLocalCinema beat hundreds of projects, with many thousands of votes, to make the finals. The ceremony was broadcast live, primetime, on BBC1, exposing millions of people to YourLocalCinema's audience development work, and accessible cinema in general.
Text message: +44 7931341377
Online Chat: http://tinyurl.com/YLCChat
Phone: 0845 0569824
YouTube subtitled trailers: https://www.yourlocalcinema.com/trailers.html
In 2017, more than 1m attended 75,000+ captioned shows (£8m+ worth of tickets). Average nationwide attendance to a captioned show: 15 people*. Average ticket cost: £7.49.
(2004: £64,000+ worth of tickets. 35 cinemas / 3,600+ shows / average attendance 4 / ticket cost £4.49).
*Low attendance is expected. A tiny percentage of those under 40 require captions for their film enjoyment. 98% of shows are inaccessible to film fans with hearing loss. Only around 2% are subtitled/captioned. Most are provided mid-week, before 6pm, when most people are attending jobs or education. Fri/Sat evening accessible shows are practically non-existent.
Average ticket cost - UKCA. Mean average nationwide attendance: 400+ cinemas surveyed (mixture of urban/rural/multiplex/chain/independent cinemas).