Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. In an earlier article, we outlined some features and services that theatres should offer. In this article, we focus on how movie theatres can make themselves welcoming to patrons of all abilities. All our recommendations for accessible theatres in general apply to movie theatre accessibility. In addition, there are other things movie theatres should do to ensure that all patrons can enjoy movies together.
Movie Theatre Accessibility
Allow Service Animals, Support Persons, and Assistive Devices
Movie theatres should have policies explaining how they will prevent or remove accessibility barriers. These policies should cover rules relating to patrons with assistive devices, service animals, and support persons. Moreover, theatres can choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets. Theatres offering this service should advertise how much they will charge and whether they require proof of disability, such as an access2 card.
Assistive Listening Systems, Closed Captioning, Described Video, and Sensory Friendly Movies
Furthermore, theatres can offer more services to make performances fully accessible for moviegoers. For instance, theatres can have assistive listening systems available for patrons to borrow. In addition, many movies are now available with closed captioning and described video. Theatres screening movies made with these features should ensure that they offer captioned and described viewing. Theatre staff should be aware that all these services are available. Likewise, they should know which equipment is used for which service, where it is stored, and how to troubleshoot when it malfunctions. Moreover, theatres can also offer sensory friendly screenings for patrons who feel more comfortable in a quieter, well-lit environment.
Explain Accessibility Features on Websites
Furthermore, theatre websites can explain how to access features, equipment, or services. For example:
- Which movies patrons can watch with captions or description
- Which performances will be sensory friendly
- Where to pick up and return assistive listening devices, video-description headsets, or closed-captioning mirrors
- When sensory friendly screenings will take place, and the cost of tickets
- How far in advance patrons should contact the theatre
- What contact method(s) to use
When websites offer details about movie theatre accessibility, moviegoers can find out if a theatre has the features they need. In addition, theatre websites should follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Patrons can use their own accessible computers or phones to browse performance offerings or order tickets online.
Media, especially TV and movies, is central to our culture. Movie theatre accessibility ensures that everyone has the chance to watch the latest movies with their friends and families.