Audio Description at the Cinema

What is the Cinema Access Implementation Plan?

The Cinema Access Implementation Plan (the Plan) is an agreement by Australia’s four major cinema chains (Hoyts, Village Cinemas, Event Cinemas (Greater Union, Birch Carroll and Coyle) and Reading Cinemas) for the roll-out of accessible technology.

The Plan aims to “fast track” Closed Captioning (CC) and Audio Description (AD) technology, to improve cinema access for people who are deaf or hearing impaired, blind or vision impaired.

Under the Plan, CC and AD will be available in at least 242 screens by the end of 2014.

Do all films have  AD?

The four main cinema chains have been given a commitment from all major studios in the US, which produce the majority of mainstream films, that an Audio Description file will be included as part of the digital hard drive. There are going to be exceptions to this, mainly when a film’s production has run late and the process to add the AD cannot be completed in time for its release. There are also a number of cases where films are produced by independent studios overseas which have not made a commitment to include AD files on the hard drives.

This does limit what is available in any given week, as the exhibitors are wholly reliant on the files for AD being produced by the international film making studios. Additionally, there is no advance knowledge of which films will or will not carry AD which restricts the exhibitor’s ability to forward plan and schedule films into the complex’s accessible screen(s).

Where can I find accessible movie sessions for my location?

Patrons should check the details of accessible movie sessions from the relevant cinema chain website.


Will there be enough units for a group to attend the one movie session?

Each accessible screen will have five AD units. If the cinema complex has more than one accessible screen, then AD units can be moved between screens to accommodate cases where more than five units are required.

Can I use my own headset with the AD system?

All AD systems require headphones to plug into a standard phone jack, so patrons may bring their own headphones (or ear buds) to connect to the system at the cinema.

Can I book the AD unit when reserving my ticket?

The current on-line booking system used by cinemas does not have the facility to book AD units. Units are available at cinemas on a first in, first served basis.

Are there any additional costs applied to patrons for borrowing AD units?  

There are no additional costs applied to cinema patrons (on top of the movie ticket price) for borrowing AD units.

What deposit system/identification is required to borrow AD units?

The requirements for deposit and/or identification will vary from cinema to cinema.

When collecting the AD units some cinemas may request patrons provide a form of identification. The current acceptable ID required by the four cinema chains is any licence issued under law which contains a current address (i.e. driver’s licence). This ID will be retained until the unit is returned. The four cinemas will also accept the Blind Citizens Australia identity card and school photo ID for students as deposit/ID for the loan of the accessible equipment.

What is the process for considering other forms of technology?

Cinemas have agreed to consider other technologies as they become available.

Further information on accessible cinema technology is available on the Media Access Australia website at www.mediaaccess.org.au/cinema-the-arts/access-to-cinema.

Feedback for cinema patrons

Feedback Cards have been provided to all cinemas with accessible screens and will be provided when you borrow CC or AD units. These cards provide the address to email feedback - accessible.cinema@dss.gov.au. Alternately you can provide feedback to the cinema directly.




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