< Back to Current

Visible Cinema

Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) launched Visible Cinema, a monthly Film Club for deaf and hard of hearing audiences, in March 2015. Developed in partnership with Film Hub Scotland and Solar Bear, and with funding from Creative Scotland, this is the first initiative of its kind in Scotland. The aim of Visible Cinema is both to bring awareness to cinema access, and to provide a relaxed and welcoming environment in which those who are deaf or hard of hearing can enjoy a range of films.

Visible Cinema will run for ten months and includes captioned, subtitled and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted screenings, followed by a post film discussion. 

This pilot scheme will enable GFT to develop the tools, knowledge and methodology to deliver a high quality, engaging programme of film for deaf and hard of hearing audiences. At the core of this programme is a holistic approach to access, which includes staff training (basic BSL & deaf awareness training), availability of a hearing loop system and infrared in the cinema, social activity, BSL interpreted discussions and participant feedback. Film Hub Scotland is planning to use this model to roll out similar film clubs throughout cinemas in Scotland.

This new programme will bring more awareness to cinema access for the deaf and hard of hearing community – addressing issues such as more suitable film screening times, deaf and hard of hearing awareness training for staff and looking at ways we can enrich the overall cinema experience. We’re excited to be leading on this project with our partners Creative Scotland, Solar Bear and Film Hub Scotland.

Jaki McDougall, CEO of Glasgow Film

Development of Visible Cinema
In recent years cinema exhibitors have made great strides to ensure their venues are accessible. Personal audio-description equipment has given blind and partially sighted people the freedom to watch a wide range of cinema and the CEA card has provided free cinema tickets to carers to enable people who need assistance to attend screenings with confidence. Other initiatives such as Autism Friendly Film Screenings have helped audiences previously excluded from the cinema-going experience to participate.

However the provision for deaf audiences – while improving – has been less than ideal. This pilot programme seeks to address failings in current provision, and also seeks to build knowledge and understanding to create a cultural shift in how cinemas provide programming for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences.

Last year, GFT held focus groups to gather feedback and input from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Focus group participants described their cinema experiences and expressed an overall preference for watching captioned and subtitled films rather than BSL interpreted screenings. However they felt their film choices were very limited. Participants also recommended and emphasised the importance of Hard of Hearing and Deaf Awareness training for cinema staff.

GFT is working closely with Solar Bear in the development of the Film Club, which is based on their successful Deaf Theatre Club model. At the core of this approach is a holistic approach to access, which includes staff training (basic BSL & deaf awareness training), availability of a hearing loop system and infrared in the cinema, social activity, BSL introductions, post film discussions and participant feedback. 

Film Hub Scotland will promote advocacy for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences within the wider film industry and community. The learning from the pilot scheme will enable GFT to develop the tools, knowledge and methodology to deliver a high quality, engaging programme of film for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences. Film Hub Scotland aims to use this model and roll out similar film clubs throughout cinemas across Scotland.

This project was developed as part of Creative Scotland’s Promoting Equalities Programme.

Monthly screenings

Lead Organisation

Glasgow Film Theatre

Sign up to receive our enewsletter to keep up to date with all the latest news and events. Sign up to our newsletter