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Thousands of deaf children could miss out on Toy Story 4

Published Date: 28 Jun 2019

Thousands of deaf children could miss out on seeing Toy Story 4 because more than half of cinemas aren’t showing it with subtitles, the National Deaf Children’s Society says.

The film, which features a deaf child wearing a cochlear implant among its characters, hit cinemas across the country on Friday, 21 June, but the charity fears that deaf children will be excluded by the lack of subtitled screenings.

According to figures from Your Local Cinema, of the 688 cinemas showing Toy Story 4 in its opening week (June 21-27), just 301 offered performances with subtitles.

Opportunities were still very limited for deaf children and their families, with those 301 cinemas offering just 477 subtitled screenings of the film between them, a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of performances across the UK this week.

In addition, many subtitled screenings took place at times which made it difficult for working families with school age children to attend, and most cinemas also only had one subtitled showing, offering little choice to deaf cinema-goers.

The news comes after a study from the National Deaf Children’s Society revealed deaf children are only half as likely to go to the cinema as their hearing friends.

As a result, the charity is calling on all cinemas to embrace new technology and offer multiple showings with subtitles, making the film accessible to deaf people of all ages.

Helen Cable, who leads the National Deaf Children’s Society’s work with children and young people, said:

“It’s appalling that deaf children aren’t being offered the chance to enjoy the magic of the movies like every other child. Imagine what it must feel like when all your friends in the playground are talking about a film, but you can’t go and see it yourself.

“It’s easy for cinemas to provide subtitles, but the majority have decided not to and it will mean thousands of deaf children are excluded.

“Cinemas across the UK need to do so much more to let deaf children access these films. The technology exists, so it’s time UK cinema chains started taking this issue seriously and gave all deaf children the chance to enjoy the defining films of their childhood.”

Duncan Milne of Aberdeen, whose partner Fiona and children Ailsa, 7, and Fergus, 4, are all deaf, said:

“We went to see Toy Story 4 as a family and it was great to see a kid with a cochlear implant in it, but it’s frustrating to realise that many deaf people won’t be able to see it because there are so few subtitled showings.

“One time we had to travel late one night to a different city to see a film we were told would be subtitled, only to find it wasn’t. We complained and were told the screening had been moved and had already been shown at 4pm that day.

“I find that it’s near impossible to find subtitled screenings of films at sensible times. The cinemas must think that deaf people don’t work or have families by some of the timings.

“Hearing people can just pop out to the cinema and see the film they want, but deaf people don’t have that luxury. We have to jump through hoops just to find a screening we can all enjoy as a family. It shouldn’t be this way.”