Lights, camera, action!

Filming a shopping trip in Cambridge
Filming a shopping trip in Cambridge

How do people with dual sensory impairments access audiovisual media? That was the big question that led me to do a three-year PhD at the University of Roehampton.

I became interested in the topic after studying and working on media accessibility and film projects. There had always been a focus on audio description for blind and partially sighted people and subtitles or sign language for deaf and hard of hearing audiences – but what about people with dual sensory impairments?

With the support of Sense and the University, and with funding from the BFI Diversity Fund, we embarked on two series of ten research workshops in Birmingham and Cambridge for the first part of our Accessible Film Project.

The project provides creative opportunities for people with sensory impairments to experiment with filmmaking techniques, test equipment for accessibility and improve access to low-budget film production and audiovisual media.

Wilf filming the figures
Wilf filming the figures

Wilf gets animated

In Birmingham, we worked with one individual – a young man named Wilf. He’s 18 years old and has CHARGE syndrome. He chose to make a stop-motion animation using the Playmobil figures he collects. He was engrossed in the process from the first workshop.

The scene depicted in the image features a bank robbery. The bad guys are getting away, but the police are in hot pursuit. Wilf created the animation by painstakingly moving each figurine, before taking a single photo of the scene on a still camera.

Wilf put all the photos together using computer-editing software. Then, much like a flicker book, the animation sequence came to life.

Wilf editing his footage on the computer
Wilf editing his footage

Capturing experiences

In Cambridge, we worked with nine young adults with dual and single sensory impairments and additional learning disabilities – and the workshops took on a very different feel.

Participants were involved at different times during the course of the workshops. The group tested a range of filmmaking techniques, and chose to film their experiences of the daily activities they do at the Cambridge Resource Centre.

The activities included rebound therapy, cookery, sports, sensory stories and shopping at their local supermarket, where they interviewed the store manager. It feels like the start of a great documentary in the making.

Filming sports at Cambridge Resource Centre
Filming sports at Cambridge Resource Centre

We’ll be working with all of the participants again later in the year, and have planned the next series of workshops at TouchBase South East in Barnet in January.

Stay tuned to find out more about the budding filmmakers!

Find out more about Sense’s Arts & Wellbeing programmes.

Author: Kate Dangerfield

Kate Dangerfield is a PhD student at the University of Roehampton. Her research focuses on accessible film making for people with dual sensory impairments, and she has a particular interest in documentaries. Kate will be working with Sense on the Accessible Film Project until 2018.

7 thoughts on “Lights, camera, action!”

  1. Hi Kate! I would just like to say a big thank you on behalf of all the learners and staff at Cambridge Resource Centre. We really enjoyed being a part of your research project, and it has given all of us an amazing opportunity to think about and explore the challenges the learners face when accessing film. We have all learned from the experience and look forward to the follow up….

    1. Hi Jane,
      Thanks to all of you at Cambridge Resource Centre too. It was a fantastic experience working with you all and we look forward to working with you again next year!

    2. Hi Jane
      Thanks for leaving a comment! CRC have been such great participants in this project, your input has been invaluable. Glad the experience doesn’t have to end just yet and i’ll be really happy to see the films you carry on making – well done to you all for taking on the challenge and creating some amazing footage which we will hopefully share here soon.
      (Head of Arts and Wellbeing at Sense)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.