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June 8, 2004


From: Gloucestershire Citizen, UK - Jun 8, 2004

It's not much fun going to the cinema if you're blind.

But that could be about to change. Revolutionary headsets for the blind and partially sighted have been introduced at the Odeon cinema in Cheltenham.

The audio description sets mean people with sight problems are able to enjoy new films immediately rather than waiting months for them to be released on video with the relevant technology.

The headsets describe what is happening in a scene with no dialogue. This may explain what action is taking place, what a character looks like, the scenery or an actor's body language.

The infra-red headphones have an 'open-ear' design so wearers can also hear what the audience is hearing.

The cinema has also installed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing at special sittings.

Captioning, unlike subtitles, denotes who is speaking by the position of the words on the screen.

The captions also alert the watcher to a phone ringing or a gunshot.

Viv Timbrell, who lives in Strickland Road in Cheltenham, has been registered blind since she was 24 and has been one of the first to enjoy the new technology.

Ms Timbrell said: "I was very impressed and am hoping now to see Harry Potter as soon as possible.

"It's very exciting because it means that blind or partially sighted people don't have to wait to see new films.

"I used to go to the cinema but you don't realise how much you're missing.

"Films like ET and Jurassic Park you really miss out on because you can't see the special effects."

Chief technician at the Odeon Chris Martin said: "The headsets open the cinema to customers which the industry has ignored for years."

There are six headsets currently available for Screen One at the Odeon Cinema in Winchcombe Street.

For more information call the Odeon on 01242 514421 or email

© Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.