Deaf Children ‘Let Down’ By Cinema Subtitling

Children around the UK are being failed by local cinemas, with new research revealing that on average 71 per cent of cinemas showed no subtitling screenings of some of the top children’s films this summer during their opening week.

The study, carried out by the National Deaf Children’s Society, found that animated film Ugly Dolls was the least accessible film, with just five per cent of cinemas putting on a subtitled show. This was followed by The Queen’s Corgi (ten per cent) and Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans (17 per cent).

The charity has now issued the call for cinemas to increase the number of subtitled screenings they put on at suitable times for families. Furthermore, it has also highlighted how the industry must now start to make big investments in new technology so that film-goers are able to have their own individual captions during a screening.

Helen Cable, who leads the society’s work with children and young people, said: “The magic of the cinema is such an important part of growing up. Everyone remembers those big moments – watching ET disappear into space, singing along to The Lion King, or getting emotional during Bambi or The Notebook. Deaf young people are no different, and it’s disgraceful that cinemas are failing them so completely.

“While the research is clear, the remedy couldn’t be more straightforward. Cinemas need to increase the number of subtitled films they show, and show them at times that are more convenient for families.”

The society isn’t the only organisation campaigning for change in this regard. Action On Hearing Loss also runs a Subtitle It campaign, launched in response to the fact that while TV access for those with hearing loss has vastly improved in recent times, there are still many programmes that are unwatchable because of a lack of subtitles, excessive background noise and music, and poor quality subtitles.

The charity’s campaign is now focused on improving access to subtitles for video-on-demand content, since the way that we consume TV has changed in the last few years.

More than 6,000 people have taken action for the campaign, resulting in the government changing the law to give Ofcom more powers to legally enforce subtitles for on-demand services.

Recommendations from Ofcom to the government include that 40 per cent of content should be subtitled within two years of the legislation coming into force, rising to 80 per cent after four years.

Apparently, there are 7.5 million subtitle users in the UK but the latest report from Ofcom shows that 76 per cent of on-demand services remain inaccessible to deaf people because of a lack of subtitles.

For help and advice relating to SDH subtitles, get in touch with us here at The Voiceover Gallery today.