CAMPAIGNERS are appealing for an end to ‘second class service’ for disabled cinemagoers, following the findings of a study released today.
Sheffield’s Odeon and Showroom cinemas were investigated by Sivamathy Selvakumaran, of Worksop, as part of the nationwide study of 125 venues.
A group of 350 young, disabled campaigners took part in the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign called Trailblazers and found disabled film-goers were often unable to sit with family and friends, and wheelchair-accessible seating was often in an uncomfortable position, or had a poor view.
They found problems with booking systems for disabled customers and staff awareness of disabled users’ needs.
Sivamathy, aged 21, who has a muscle weakness condition, said: “I was very pleased to find that physical access at the cinemas that I visited was fairly good. It was using the Cinema Exhibitors Association card that caused most of my problems.
“The CEA card grants disabled people a free ticket for their personal assistant or carer, so that they don’t have to pay twice to see a movie.
“I couldn’t seem to book a free seat online for my carer next to me. Problems like this are relatively easy to resolve and just require a little more thinking from cinema exhibitors.”
Odeon Sheffield manager Joanna Ashton said: “We do check our facilities on a regular basis, have disabled access to all our screens, and and are always looking at what we can do to improve.
“I was not aware of the problem with booking online, but now that I am I will speak to our head office and see what we can do about it.”
Melanie Crawley, at the Showroom, said: “We unfortunately don’t offer any complimentary or free tickets online, simply because we can’t control who books them.
“But we are looking at revamping our website in 2012 and creating a log-in area.
“We want to attract as diverse an audience as possible - we have complete disabled access throughout the cinema, accept CEA cards for telephone bookings and have infra-red hearing loops.”