As well as emailing all the distributors, I also emailed the UK Cinema Association. They were holding a meeting on the 13th October that I thought I might be able to attend. Surprise surprise, they thought there was “little to be gained” from my attendance. But Phil Clapp, the Chief Executive, did direct me towards the Equality Act 2010 (which I did already know about, but it’s always good to look at the legalities of a situation). It has this to say:
“The third requirement is a requirement, where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide the auxiliary aid.” Section 20:5 of the Equality Act 2010.
Reasonable. It’s so fluffy and so vague. What does it even mean for cinemas; for big cinemas, for small cinemas? If subtitled screenings were as well attended as non-subtitled screenings, then cinemas would have no qualms about having more of them. So there’s obviously a financial angle to reasonable. Also, not all films actually even have subtitles, so its unreasonable for us to expect those films to have subtitled screenings. There are limits to what the cinemas can actually do. But are they doing what is reasonable?
I think that some are. (I bet you didn’t expect me to say that, eh?) But absolutely, some aren’t. If you’re an enormous multiplex with fifteen screens and on each of your screens you show 3 films per day, you have 315 screenings per week. Is having, say 3, of your 315 screenings reasonable? How can it possibly be? Especially if your three screenings are all at off-peak times?
I asked Phil Clapp if he could put me in touch with the Disability Working Group, but all he was able to offer me was the contact of Gillian Rollason. She works for Action on Hearing Loss as their Social Policy Manager. So I emailed her. More about that another time.