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NDCS Press Release: Charity slams ‘Great Cinematic Lottery’ as 1 in 4 cinemas shun subtitles for Deaf Awareness Week

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246 out of 881 cinemas have failed deaf cinemagoers by offering no subtitled showings whatsoever.
Number of cinemas showing films with subtitles went down for Deaf Awareness Week and just 3% of showings were at peak times.
Charity slams the industry for leaving deaf cinemagoers trapped in “the Great Cinematic Lottery.”
There are more than 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or living with a hearing loss, including over 50,000 children.

One in four cinemas across the UK still didn’t have a single subtitled screening during Deaf Awareness Week (May 2-8), despite the industry’s claim that it was set to be more inclusive.

The UK Cinema Association announced on May 2nd that Cineworld, Odeon and Vue would be joined by other operators to “show their support for people with hearing loss” by increasing subtitled screenings.

However, 246 out of 881 cinemas (28%) opted not to show any at all.

In fact, there were more cinemas screening at least one film with subtitles the week before than during Deaf Awareness Week itself (636 compared to 635).

In addition, just 110 out of 3,428 subtitled showings nationally (3%) were on Friday or Saturday after 6pm, meaning deaf people are still being excluded from seeing films at peak times.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has slammed the UK Cinema Association’s claims of inclusion as a “publicity-seeking gimmick that pays lip service to accessibility” and says deaf people are trapped in “the Great Cinematic Lottery.”

The figures, provided by YourLocalCinema.com, do show that the number of subtitled screenings increased from 1,820 in the week before (April 25th to May 1st) to 3,428 in Deaf Awareness Week.

However, those 3,428 subtitled screenings included 30 different films, leaving an average of just 114 showings for each one.

This means deaf people wanting to see a specific film with subtitles had an average of 114 screenings across 881 cinemas – or a one in eight chance that their local cinema would be showing it on average.

In response to the shocking figures, the charity says until deaf people have the option of attending a subtitled screening of any film, at any time and during any week of the year, equality will remain a long way away.

It is also challenging cinema chains to be the first to put their hand up and prove their support for deaf people by offering a major increase in subtitled showings.

According to the charity RNID, there are more than 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or living with a hearing loss. More than 50,000 are deaf children.

Jo Campion, Deputy Director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“Deaf Awareness Week is about celebrating deaf people and highlighting the issues they face. Instead, the cinema industry has used it to pay lip service to accessibility with a publicity-seeking gimmick.

“Even when the announcement was made, it was difficult to get excited because there were no firm promises or figures. Now we know exactly why.

“Until deaf people can see any film, at any time during any week of the year with subtitles, they will remain trapped in the Great Cinematic Lottery and true equality will be a long way away.

“However, a substantial, permanent increase in subtitles would at least make a difference. So which cinema is going to be the first to put its hand up, turn on the subtitles and welcome deaf cinemagoers through its doors?”