The progress made by the UK cinema sector in seeking to address issues of disability and access was praised this week at the launch of a report by Trailblazers, a campaigning group set up by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

 The Trailblazers report ‘Removing Barriers, Promoting Independence’ was the result of almost two years of work by a large number of disabled young people looking at the standards of accessibility across a range of sectors including cinema.

As part of the campaign’s work, in December 2011 the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Young Disabled People heard evidence from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, the trade body for UK cinema, and senior figures from the key cinema circuits. Since that time the CEA has been in dialogue with both its members and Trailblazers to co-ordinate progress in response to the findings both of that discussion and an industry ‘mystery shopper’ exercise undertaken at the end of last year.

Key strands of activity have included:

  • publication of new guidance for cinemas on the positioning of wheelchair bays in auditoria;
  • provision of advice to all CEA members on how to make their websites even more accessible, the provision of access information online and encouraging more companies to provide online booking of wheelchair bays;
  • production and distribution of two new cinema trailers promoting subtitling and audio description services; and
  • development and distribution of a new industry-wide film and training pack  – Welcoming Disabled Customers – produced further to raise awareness amongst cinema staff on issues around disability and access in cinema.

Praising the progress made by UK cinema companies, Chair of the APPG Paul Maynard MP, who launched this week’s report, said:

“I am delighted to see the extent to which the UK cinema sector has engaged with the Trailblazers project and responded to the points made in its report. I think that there is the potential for something very exciting to happen here in further opening up cinema for a much wider range of disabled young people.

There is still some way to go, but the willingness of the cinema operators to engage in dialogue and respond to the issues raised by disabled young people is hugely encouraging.”

Welcoming the Trailblazers report, CEA Chief Executive said:

“The UK cinema sector has a strong record of disability access. The last ten years in particular has seen a real step change in access. That said, we are not complacent as an industry and always welcome the opportunity to engage in dialogue with all of our customers to better understand their needs. In 2012, the CEA along with cinema operators have already delivered a number of projects which address the issues raised by Trailblazers. We are proud of what has been achieved this year and look forward to continuing this work into 2013 and beyond.”

The Trailblazers’ Report – Removing Barriers, Promoting Independence can be found on the Trailblazers website.