A couple of weeks ago I blogged on the work of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, campaigning about the poor access that disabled people encounter during something as taken for granted as going to the cinema.
As I noted at the time:
[I]t’s the things that non-disabled people wouldn’t even think of that often scupper the opportunities for disabled people to have the same opportunity to participate equally – in this case, going to the cinema.
Cinemas are to start staging monthly autism friendly screenings of top films. The move comes after the hugely successful summer pilot which saw more than 3,000 people affected by autism attend special morning screenings.
Sensory friendly screenings will now be taking place monthly in 55 cinemas.
Admittedly, the screenings – the result of a partnership between Dimensions and ODEON – will only be monthly. But at least the particular barriers faced by people with autism have been identified, and the organisations involved should be congratulated for their work on this.
For information: the next screening will be of Johnny English Reborn (during week commencing 14 October), followed by Arthur Christmas (during week commencing 18 November).
More often than not, debates around disability and the role, for example, that disabled people’s organisations can play, tend to centre around “big” issues like social care, welfare/benefits and health.
This is obviously a very narrow view. Non-disabled people don’t think in such narrow terms; funny enough, neither do disabled people.
Indeed, it’s often in the things that non-disabled people take for granted that disabled people face the most barriers put in front of them.
An excellent campaign by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign yesterday showed that something as seemingly straightforward as going to the cinema is by no means easy if disability is involved.
Research (which was done, incidentally, by young people with muscular dystrophy) showed that disabled people can expect the following when they visit a cinema:
Poor disability awareness among staff members
Uncomfortable and poor viewing areas
Inaccessible auditoriums and refreshments areas
Poorly maintained toilets
Stairways without banisters
A video from the campaign captures the nub of the issue:
As ever, it’s the things that non-disabled people wouldn’t even think of that often scupper the opportunities for disabled people to have the same opportunity to participate equally – in this case, going to the cinema.
And if the relatively small things in life – visiting the cinema with friends, going to the shops, nipping down the pub for a quick pint – are made so inaccessible, what hope do we have for the “big” issues?