There are only a few cinemas I have easy access to due to the facilities within the location, including Odeon Cinema de Lux as part of Broadway Plaza in Birmingham, Cineworld Broad Street in Birmingham and showcase Cinema Deluxe Leicester. I don’t often go to the cinema with my family rather I go with my friends or my personal assistants which means that the visits are independent and we need to be prepared and aware of the facility is to be able to get the most out of the day. The locations are fully accessible and have lifts to the upper floors so I can access all of the screens in the cinema.
Lack of faculties
Though the cinemas have disabled toilets which are good, cinemas in general rarely have radar key locks on the disabled toilet door, which prevents those who don’t need to use the facility from using it.
Neither do they have a ‘Changing Places’ which means those who have a similar disability to me and need to use hoists to transfer cannot use these toilets and this restricts the amount of time disabled customers can spend at the cinema with friends and loved ones before they have to return home. I think cinemas should possibly have a ‘Changing Places’ facility put into place to benefit future disabled customers.
Queues and Checkouts at the Cinema
Queuing up at these cinemas is relatively easy, although this depends on the number of customers that are there at the time of the visit and how you can manoeuvre around the limited space in between the bannisters in order to get to the counters to purchase tickets. Here I often used my student card to get discounts and I could also use my CEA Card to be able to get a carer, a family member or a friend in for free, one of the perks of being disabled.
This is a great example of stuff helpfulness at the cinemas, they are very patient and helpful and I am really grateful for there ongoing help as it relieves the very few anxieties that I can have about going to cinemas with friends.
Receiving the tickets isn’t the problem but it’s after we have purchased the tickets and our snacks that is the problem. Often when I go to the cinema with a group we all get snacks and drinks and this means I often have to rely on those whom I am with to carry up to the screen which means its quite a balancing act for us to manage everything.
This is made more challenging when I am out at the cinema with my fellow friends who also have a disability, we find it difficult to buy and transport our snacks and drinks from the counter without spilling them.
I agree that the pick and mix and the machine drinks have lids on them but the popcorn and nachos don’t, making it hard to juggle things between us all.
Again the members of staff are helpful, friendly and patient here too to accompany us into the screening to assist us. I remember one particular visit that I was with a group that friends, some of whom were disabled themselves, we had brought tickets, snacks and drinks, between us we had everything held securely in our arms, but with nowhere else to balance it, I wedged my pick & mix tub in between my knees and moved towards the lift.
There was a small gap to go over to go into lift and as I got into it, my wheelchair bounced and the pick & mix fell, burst open and spilt over the floor of the lift. Upset, I spoke to staff and they very kindly allowed me to refill the pick and mix cup again without paying. This time I made sure to put my water bottle in my bag and placed my pick & mix in the crook of my arm. There needs to be creative thinking here!
I understand that cinemas get very busy but I think staff members need to take disabled customers snack orders to their seats. I also think snack bars should be on every level, not just one so it’s not that far for the disabled customer to carry their snacks. It would also be helpful if the doors had an automated disabled button or alternately if there were staff on the doors to see people in before the screening starts.
Another challenging area is getting seats with the screening that allow me to sit with my friends, I like to have chats and gossips with them before the film begins. Different cinemas have different locations which the disabled customers can sit in while watching the film and I don’t mind too much about not being able to transfer and getting the luxurious seating that is currently in cinemas, what annoys me is when the disabled space is put miles away from these seats or there is a very large step in between me and the first seat on the row next to me.
It makes me feel awkward sitting on my own and terribly isolated from my friends, I have come to the cinema to enjoy a film and be with my friends, not to be segregated because of my disability. It’s just not a pleasant experience for either of us, the disabled seating has a great view off the screen and we rarely get disturbed by other customers when in the seat, but it’s the principle of being isolated.
There have been times where I have made conscious efforts and requested to be seated near the front to be able to be sat by whomever I am with and this has been successful, also allowing me to share a tray that is front of their seat to put my drinks and snacks on it is still something that needs to be changed. There is not always a space at the front of the screening I can put myself in and I have to sit in the designated seat for disabled customers.
I think this needs to be looked at and recognised, I have made staff members at such cinemas aware of the issues, steps and suggestions need to be put into place. In the meantime, I think at least cinemas need to provide a tray for those in wheelchairs to put their snacks and drinks on so it’s at easy access when they provide trays for able-bodied patrons. Not being able to sit with friends upsets me and it affects my independence if I have to constantly ask for assistance.
Please don’t be under the misapprehension that I dislike going to the cinema, getting assistance from very kind members of staff, I love going there and seeing a good film with my family and friends; I just find it annoying that there are challenges preventing me from enjoying myself, I do hope they find suitable solutions and put them into place very soon to ensure everyone has the full cinematic experience.