If you’ve spent a fair bit of time listening to Deaf people, then chances are you’ll know the cinema is an area most of us avoid.
For many of us, this isn’t something we want to do, rather something we have to do, due to a lack of subtitled screenings at appropriate times. The cinema industry is shamefully and institutionally ableist, and has shown little sign of addressing that problem.
So rejoice, Cineworld have today slashed prices at their cinemas as part of a promotion called Cineworld Day! £3 tickets – all day, all films, but not all cinemas if you’re deaf and need a subtitled screenings.
They told one user on Twitter earlier this week: “We will be showing some subtitled screenings on Cineworld Day, which cinema are you looking to attend and we’ll see if your local cinema has any this day?”
The situation is laughable. Not only does it establish an inequality in terms of some screenings for Deaf people versus all screenings for hearing people, but cinemas and hearing people (wrongly) argue that subtitled screenings aren’t financially viable.
Now I don’t know about you, but one damn good way of increasing sales for subtitled screenings is putting them on at accessible time (no more showings on a Tuesday just after Deaf people finish work, for crying out loud) and discounting the tickets. Funnily enough, Cineworld had an excellent opportunity to do that with Cineworld Day, but it failed to take that step.
A follow-up tweet to the one mentioned above also offered an insight into the administrative failures at Cineworld.
“Hi Liam. Can you let us know which cinemas don’t appear to have a subtitled screening for that day so we can chase this up on our end?”
This, from the same company who previously said “some” subtitled screenings were available today, on Cineworld Day. Ergo, logic would lead you to think that said company would know exactly which cinemas are not putting on any subtitled screenings.
Unfortunately not, and while I am not airing my frustrations at the individual social media manager here (I’m airing them at Cineworld as an organisation), asking a Deaf person to present Cineworld with evidence of their cinemas not putting on subtitled screenings is ridiculous, though unsurprising.
Unsurprising, because we do that already. Deaf people already take to social media to complain when their local cinema has no subtitled showings available for the latest release. We have to use social media, because an Equality Act which is only effective if you have the cash means Twitter shaming is the only way to hit these companies’ profits. Most of the time it falls to a complimentary voucher for our Herculean efforts – a similar level of effort we have to put into searching for accessible cinema in the first place.
We’re tired of doing the work for cinema brands like Cineworld, when it has always been their duty to step up to the table.
Cineworld Day was an opportunity for one company to make a welcome step to invite more Deaf people to their cinemas, but they failed, and that tells you all you need to know.
Featured Image: Cineworld/Twitter.