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August 2, 2004

Subtitled screenings hit new high

From: BBC News, UK - Aug 2, 2004

More UK cinemas than ever are offering subtitled screenings of new blockbuster films, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) has found.

Digital subtitling is being used in more than 100 cinemas nationwide.

The research comes ahead of new laws coming into force in October, which require businesses to offer an equal level of service to disabled people.

"Equal access is a crucial issue for all cinema operators," said RNID chief executive Dr John Low.

'Previously inadequate'

One in seven UK cinemas installed captioning and audio-description equipment in February, after the UK Film Council received £500,000 from the National Lottery Fund.

The RNID said that before this only 22 of almost 700 UK cinemas had adequate subtitling equipment.

"This meant many deaf and hard of hearing people had to travel unacceptable distances for a specific screening just to enjoy the latest film," the charity said.

Five million people in the UK use subtitles regularly when watching television, many of whom will now be able to view subtitled screenings of the latest releases, the RNID said.

The Barbican Screen in central London is one of the cinemas using digital subtitling equipment in selected screenings. Director Robert Rider said: "We are committed to programming these screenings in regular weekday evening and weekend slots."

The move by cinemas to improve access for deaf and hard of hearing people complies with the forthcoming Disability Discrimination Act.

It aims to give disabled people equal and enforceable rights and access to goods, facilities and services.