Going to the cinema to see the latest big blockbuster should be an enjoyable experience for everyone. However, it seems disabled people are finding it more difficult to enjoy the cinema experience or even go at all due to lack of accessibility.
I used to go to the cinema almost every week but stopped going years ago because of poor access and facilities for wheelchair users.
We live in a world full of amazing and wonderful innovations and advances, yet cinemas are lagging behind with access.
It’s only in the last year that I’ve started going to the cinema again. The reason for this is my nephew. He is now at an age that he can happily sit through an entire movie without losing interest. He loves it when we take him for a day out at the cinema and dinner afterwards.
Since I’ve started going to the cinema again I’ve rediscovered the accessibility issues that stopped me going.
Just last weekend we took our nephew to see the latest Transformers movie, Bumblebee at the Vue in Oceans Terminal. The wheelchair spaces were right at the front and because there were only two standard seats beside the two wheelchair spaces, the four of us couldn’t sit together.
There was me and my boyfriend at the front while my sister and nephew were near the back. Thankfully on this occasion, there was no other wheelchair user, so my sister and nephew were able to come down and sit with us once the movie started.
Good job my nephew is tiny because he had to share a seat with my boyfriend because there were only two seats beside the wheelchair spaces.
It shouldn’t be difficult to go to the cinema as a family when you are a wheelchair user.
Sitting at the front is terrible for my neck and many other wheelchair users. Knowing I’ll be sat in the front row has often put me off going to the cinema at all.
As wheelchair users, we don’t have the luxury of the entire room to pick our seats from. Typically we are restricted to a designated area at the front which causes pain, pressure and stress on our bodies.
I will sometimes sacrifice my own comfort and sit at the front if I have promised to take my nephew on a cinema trip rather than disappoint him. I’ve even resorted to folding up jackets for neck support while tilting my wheelchair back.
There are some cinemas with wheelchair accessible booths at the back in some of the screens. This is fantastic as it allows wheelchair users to be able to see the screen better without viewing restrictions and feeling like you have whiplash at the end of the movie.
On the other hand, some cinemas only have one wheelchair space which means wheelchair users can’t go with friends or family who are also in a wheelchair. That rules out myself and my older sister, who like myself is a wheelchair user.
Cinemas should provide different seating options to allow wheelchair users to choose the best option for themselves.
I would also love to see bigger accessible toilets or even better, changing places toilets in cinemas. This will ensure inclusion and allow many more disabled people to enjoy the cinema without restricting fluid intake and worrying about needing to rush home to use the toilet!