Dates released for the start of new accessible cinema program

Thursday, 16 December 2010 10:28am

Australia is looking to be the first country in the world where its major entertainment cinemas will have all venues accessible. Trying to achieve this involves some risk as there are always difficulties in making sure new technologies work well and fit in with worldwide practice.

The Cinema Access Implementation Plan was released on 17 July 2010 by Australia's four major cinema groups (Hoyts, Village, Event and Reading) with funding support from the Australian Government. The Plan aims to ‘fast track’ new audio description and captioning technology, as part of a bold new approach to improve cinema access for people who are Deaf, hearing impaired, blind or vision impaired.

Under the first phase of the roll-out due by December 2010, some 24 additional accessible screens were to become available and they were to support both closed captioning (using the CaptiView system) and audio description. Unfortunately, there have been delays in the roll-out schedule which has been beyond the control of the cinema chains.

A major feature of the Plan involves the use of the newest digital cinema equipment and use of the latest digital cinema technology. This means that the Plan relies heavily on the progress made internationally in the areas of cinema technology, importation and installation of equipment; movie availability that utilises the new technology, and finalisation of international standards associated with production of audio description using the new technology.

These many and complex issues extend well beyond the borders of Australia and have caused delay in the rate of roll-out that the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group (ACAG) had anticipated would be achieved by 30 December.

WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?

Closed captions from 30 December 2010

In brief, closed captions using the new CaptiView system will be available from 30 December 2010 on one screen each at:

Audio description will not be available in these cinemas until some time in 2011.

Patrons should check their local cinema website to confirm the availability of an online booking service from 30 December 2010. Information can also be obtained from this website.  

Audio description at some locations from 6 January 2011

From 6 January 2011 these locations will offer audio description services using the current DTS access system (as used in the independent cinemas):

These locations are in addition to Hoyts Tweed Heads, which was previously the independent AMC Tweed Heads. Hoyts Tweed Heads has continued to run audio described sessions since becoming a Hoyts location a couple of months ago.  

The number of headphones at these five locations will be advised on local cinema websites and the Your Local Cinema website, when known.

More open captioned sessions from 6 January 2011

As an interim measure before converting to the new technology from 6 January 2011, all current major chain locations will double the open captioned sessions to six per week.   Proposed estimated session times are:

  • Thursday 10.30am
  • Friday 6.00pm
  • Sunday 3.00pm
  • Monday 6.30pm
  • Tuesday 4.00pm
  • Wednesday 10.00am

These Locations are:

  • Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney, NSW
  • Event Cinemas Parramatta, NSW
  • Greater Union, Glendale, NSW
  • Hoyts Erina, NSW
  • Hoyts Tweed Heads, NSW
  • BCC Casuarina, NT
  • BCC Brisbane City Myer Centre, Qld
  • BCC Maroochydore, Qld
  • Event Cinemas, Marion, SA
  • Hoyts Belconnen, ACT
  • Hoyts Carousel, Cannington, WA
  • Village Cinemas, Hobart, Tas

As noted earlier, each cinema chain is working toward improving its online bookings. Patrons should check their local cinema chain websites to confirm session times from January 2011. Information can also be obtained from this website. 

These are only short term measures and are not a replacement to the roll-out of the Cinema Access Implementation Plan.

Have your say

The ACAG values your feedback. It is essential the ACAG be aware of your cinema experiences. It is particularly looking for the impressions of those able to access one of the three new accessible cinemas.

The ACAG welcomes all comments and views and asks that you provide this feedback through a dedicated email address: accessible.cinema@fahcsia.gov.au.

The ACAG regrets these delays and wishes to assure you that it will be providing regular updates as news becomes available on progress made under the Accessible Cinema Implementation Plan.

For more in-depth information on this announcement please read the official message from the ACAG.


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