Cinema is made accessible to those who are deaf or hearing impaired through captions and those who are blind or vision impaired through audio description. While most movies released in Australia have captions and audio description, not every cinema caters to customers with impaired hearing or vision. Media Access Australia works closely with the cinema industry so that more people will be able to enjoy the movies.
As of August 2013, there are currently 115 cinemas in Australia that show accessible movies on a total of 212 screens. Reading Cinemas show only captioned movies at this point in time, no audio description.
History of accessible cinema
Captioned cinema has been in Australia since 2001 with audio description introduced in 2009 thanks to the support of a Federal Department of Health and Ageing grant for 12 independent cinemas. This scheme, 'Helping Older Australians Enjoy the Movies: Accessible Cinema', helped drive the expansion of the accessible cinema program into major commercial chains.
In 2010, the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and major cinemas Hoyts, Village, Event/Greater Union/ Birch Carroll & Coyle and Reading Cinemas announced the Cinema Access Implementation Plan. The Plan outlines the implementation of accessible sessions in all major cinema chain locations to the end of 2014 and works in conjunction with the cinema industry’s worldwide conversion to digital cinema.
The independent cinema sector is currently finalising its move to digital cinema and is in the planning phases of its access strategy.
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