Groups representing disabled people have welcomed the release by the CEA of an industry-wide training resource – Welcoming Disabled Customers – for use by cinemas across the country.

The training resource – which includes a specially commissioned training film – contains guidance for cinema staff to help ensure that disabled cinema-goers in the UK have the opportunity to see films at their best, in the environment that the director intended.

Jointly-funded by the major UK cinema companies as well as the CEA, this is the first time the industry has collectively supported a resource of this kind for the benefit of the broader industry and all of its disabled customers. The CEA is unaware of any other sector which has taken a similar cross-industry approach.

A range of groups representing disabled people have warmly welcomed the initiative.

Emma Lindsay, National Campaigns Manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said:

“Everyone should be able to enjoy their cinema experience, appreciate a film and have a night out. So it’s really positive to see that the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association is taking steps to make sure that disabled people with a wide range of impairments have access to all cinemas. Awareness among staff is absolutely vital if people’s differing needs are to be met.”

Dr Roger Wicks, Director of Research, Policy and Government Relations at Action on Hearing Loss, added:

“We welcome the disability training pack that has been developed by the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association. Access to cinemas is an important issue for film fans with hearing loss as their experience varies depending on staff attitudes and the availability of assistive equipment or subtitles in each venue. We urge all cinema staff to use this training to ensure they provide the same level of service to deaf or hard of hearing people as they do for other customers.”

Tanvi Vyas, Trailblazers Campaigns Officer for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said:

“Trailblazers are delighted that the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association is investing in disability equality training. By acknowledging disabled people within the training process and informing cinema staff on how to treat disabled customers, Trailblazers hope to see all disabled customers treated with dignity and understanding like their non-disabled peers.  All challenges cannot be resolved overnight, however, and this is a great step in the right direction to make cinemas an accessible, friendly and comfortable environment for all. We look forward to seeing the theory put into practice and seeing a real difference on visits to the cinema.”

All CEA members are being encouraged to use the new resource, with every major cinema company and many smaller operations are already in the process of integrating this new material into their induction and refresher training programmes.

Some cinema sites have very high turnover of staff, with many of their workforce being younger, seasonal, workers. It is a challenge for cinemas to ensure staff have the right level of knowledge to deal with a wide range of customer needs, but the new resource will help staff gain a consistent and rigorous understanding of the needs of their disabled customers.

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