Lights, Camera, Captions! A new campaign to help deaf children enjoy cinema (photo credit: Ashleigh Bamber)

A new charity campaign has been launched to encourage cinemas to think about how they accommodate deaf children.

The National Deaf Children’s Society campaign is asking cinemas all over the country to help deaf children to access films easier, by using new technologies or including more subtitles on screenings.

The charity found that 85% of deaf children miss the opportunity to go to the cinema due to the lack of showings with subtitles. (Based on research of 621 parents who have deaf children).

As well as this, around two thirds of parents have admitted to giving up on going to the cinema with their deaf child for the same reason.

In Nottingham, several cinemas offer services that are useful to deaf children. Broadway cinema, an independent cinema in Hockley, shows regular screenings of films with ‘closed captioning’ which are subtitles specifically for the hard of hearing or deaf people.

Dialogue in films is reproduced and sounds that are not classed as dialogue are described in the subtitles.

These are shown in advertised screenings of movies and are available to all, which could potentially help deaf children feel more included.

Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, offers regular screenings with subtitles for those who are hard of hearing (photo credit: Ashleigh Bamber)

Stewart Terry, Director of Marketing and Communications at Broadway in Nottingham, said that they are dedicated to helping everyone enjoy the arts.

“At Broadway, we’re dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to the arts so being committed to captioned screenings is extremely important to us.

We screen around 130 international films every year on numerous occasions which is around 30% of our entire programme.

In regards of English language films, we’re dedicated to ensuring that we have at least one captioned screening for each film we screen and have at least two members of box office staff who have a basic level of BSL training.”

He said that the cinema plan to do even more in the future to help those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to enjoy films.

“We’re excited by the potential introduction of a technological solution that will make our entire programme accessible.”

Did you know:

  • The number of deaf children in the UK is over 50,000.
  • About 67% agreed that a lack of subtitles in film screenings meant they did not want to go to the cinema and would just stay at home.
  • There are around 62 million children around the globe who are deaf.
  • 90% of children are born without either parents having any difficulties in hearing.

This data is provided by The National Deaf Children’s Society.

NDCS has found that the problem of deaf children missing out on going to the cinema is still happening.

Last year, over half of the UK’s cinemas did not offer any subtitled screenings during the opening week of a big film release, such as Toy Story 4, and for films like The Queen’s Corgi, the figure was even lower, with only 10% of screenings with subtitles.

Director of Policy and Campaigns at NDCS, Steven Haines, said: “The message from parents is clear; deaf children can’t enjoy the same films as their hearing friends because cinemas won’t provide subtitles.

Missing out on the cinema isn’t just about missing a new film. It’s about being excluded from society just because you’re deaf.”

NDCS is the leading organisation which helps deaf children and their family to live freely, “creating a world without barriers”.

They give support to the families and children, with ideals to challenge society to help cater to deaf children’s needs.