Accessible films on the big screen

A boy enjoying the screening
Enjoyment at the screening

Over the past 10 weeks, students from Birmingham and Cambridge who are deafblind have been working hard making films. The process culminated with the exciting opportunity to see the films screened at cinemas.

The Accessible Film Project encourages and provides creative opportunities for people with sensory impairments to experiment and explore film making and accessibility.

We organised two private screenings: one at the Light-House Media Centre in Wolverhampton and the other at Cineworld in St Neots, Cambridge. There’s no better way to watch a film than at a cinema and everyone should have the opportunity to do so.

Wilf in the spotlight

Wilf is a student from Summit Point, Birmingham who has CHARGE syndrome and a huge interest in making film.

At the Light-House Media Centre in Wolverhampton, Wilf’s stop-motion movie using Playmobil figures was well received and everyone was really impressed.

We also screened our short ‘making-of’ film that showed Wilf’s hard work. Most importantly, though, his personality shone through. Wilf has been making his own short films for a long time, although this was the first time he had ever shown one to other people – or on a big screen.

Wilf and fellow users in front of the Play Mobil film
Wilf and others from the Sense Birmingham service in front of their work

A screening for everyone

We had a full house at the Cineworld in St Neots, Cambridge, as other Sense College centres joined us for the screening of a film about life at the Cambridge Resource Centre.

It was exciting and nerve-wracking for all involved, but the students’ efforts really paid off and we got some great feedback, including this quote from one member of the audience: “Inspirational and insightful. It was a fantastic experience.”

We provided audio description and Subtitles for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) for the film, and also included Widgit symbols for the text at the beginning as a trial, because many of the students at the Centre use these symbols to support communication.


The feedback was positive, although it would be great to find out from more people about whether this type of accessibility is a workable option. The key principles of accessible filmmaking are particularly important because we were including access services at the same time.

Accessibility is vital

Our aim is that access should not be an afterthought in the filmmaking process – but should be considered from the start of production and during editing to provide better access for people who are deafblind, D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, or partially sighted.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to both cinemas for their generosity and hospitality. We’re back to Birmingham and Cambridge soon for the next stage of the project – so look out for further updates soon!

Read Kate’s first blog post outlining the Accessible Film Project.

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.

3 thoughts on “Accessible films on the big screen”

  1. Well done to all the learners from Cambridge for creating and taking part in what is an inspiring and beautiful piece of film.

    1. Thanks, Jane! A massive thanks to everyone for taking part! Can’t wait to start working with you again soon.

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