Currently under the Equality Act, UK cinema providers are expected to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities. For people with hearing loss, cinema providers usually achieve this through installation of loop systems and having some subtitled screenings. However, there are considerable amounts of complaints about the quality of loop systems and the off peak screenings of subtitled content resulting in cinemas being inaccessible for people with hearing loss.
The UK culture towards subtitled screenings is unlikely to result in an increased number of subtitled screenings as the broader audience in cinemas do not wish to view subtitles.
In 2013, the UK Cinema Association did a small review of both a personal device subtitle solution (Dolbi Captiview and Doremi screens) as well as a smart glasses solution (Sony Entertainment Glasses and USL Captionwear Glasses). None were seen to be perfect but most people preferred the smart glasses. However, Sony do not sell this product outside of the US.
“I love going to the cinema to see the latest films and blockbusters with my friends and family. But as a person with profound deafness, I need subtitles, which are few and far between, to understand what is happening. This means a lot of planning is involved with my friends and family to have an inclusive experience. If there was a possibility of a easy to use technological solution in cinemas across the UK, I would be able to go to any screening I want, when I want and have a cracking good time with my friends and family whilst leading the independent life I want to choose.” Ed Rex
The tech challenge proposal: