IM this article to a friend!

April 13, 2005

Cinemas sign up to help sensory impaired

From: Belfast Telegraph, UK - Apr 13, 2005

By Ashleigh Wallace
13 April 2005

Eight cinemas across Northern Ireland have signed up for a new programme aimed at providing their hard of hearing and visually impaired customers with access to the latest films.

World blind water ski champion Janet Gray and Lisburn man David McIlroy - who last year won two gold medals in the Deaf Olympics - were just two people who welcomed the new initiative which was due to be launched in Belfast's Queen's Film Theatre today.

The Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission's (NIFTC) cinema access programme is aimed at enabling deaf, hard of hearing, blind and partially sighted people to enjoy the latest films released in cinemas through specialist subtitling and audio description equipment.

And eight cinemas province-wide, including the Village Cinema in Belfast's Odyssey complex, Iveagh Movie Studio in Banbridge and the Queen's Film Theatre, have signed up to the new programme.

All cinemas across Ulster were invited to apply for necessary funding from the NIFTC.

Those participating are now obliged to screen one film per week under the new scheme after £70,000 was awarded to each cinema to install the specialist equipment.

Dr Janet Gray, the world blind water skiing champion, said: "People with sensory impairments on the whole have been excluded from the enjoyment of cinema.

"With the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act which came into effect in October 2004, the installation of this equipment in a number of cinemas throughout Northern Ireland will increase the range of social activities that deaf and visually impaired can engage in and enjoy on a weekly basis."

Also welcoming the initiative was gold medal winner David McIlroy, who said: "It is very encouraging to see local cinemas taking advantage of the NIFTC funding that has been provided as part of this initiative and truly providing access for all."

2005 Independent News and Media (NI) a division of Independent News & media (UK) Ltd