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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 08:45 GMT
Deaf and blind film fans get help
Films will include blockbusters and more specialised movies
Special devices to enhance the enjoyment of deaf and blind film-lovers are being installed in 78 UK cinemas.

About one in seven British cinemas will install captioning and audio-description equipment which provides an unobtrusive commentary to a film.

The UK Film Council received 500,000 from the National Lottery for its Cinema Access Programme.

"We want to help all sectors of the community to enjoy film," said UK Film Council spokesman Peter Buckingham.

Cinemas will have to provide at least 50% of the funding required for installation and equipment.

The Film Distributors' Association released 84 films with audio description and digital subtitles last year.

People with hearing or sight problems can use a website, Your Local Cinema, which tells them where films are being screened in local cinemas.

Welcome move

"Audio description provides a commentary, through headphones, that explains action sequences, body language and much more to the listener without interfering with the film dialogue, making watching a film a truly inclusive experience," said Denise Evans from the Royal National Institute of the Blind.

Only 22 cinemas in England, four in Scotland and one each in Wales and Northern Ireland are equipped with the devices at present.

"Deaf and hard of hearing people have been excluded from the enjoyment of cinema since the advent of the talkies back in the 1920s," said Dr John Low, chief executive of the Royal National Institute of the Deaf.

"At a time when service providers are preparing for part three of the Disability Discrimination Act, which comes into effect in October 2004, the installation of this equipment greatly expands access and choice for large numbers of deaf and blind and partially sighted people."

Belfast launch for blind-deaf cinema
04 Jan 02  |  Northern Ireland
Blind 'see' theatre through new eyes
17 Sep 98  |  Entertainment
Deaf people 'feel excluded'
05 Apr 00  |  Scotland

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