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Audio described cinema and DVD information.

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Cinema audio description is a fantastic service for people with sight problems. The normal film soundtrack comes through the cinemas surround sound speakers in the usual way, and a recorded narrator explains what's happening on screen - in gaps in the dialogue - through personal headphones. It's similar to listening to a cricket or football match on the radio - having the action described to you - but with added surround sound, which places you in the middle of the action.

Most popular cinema releases are now available with audio description 'files'. More than 300 UK cinemas have facilities to 'read' these files, and screen audio described shows. There are around 20,000 shows around the UK every month - almost 40% increase on last year.

But most DVD releases are still NOT audio described, so catch a film while you can at the cinema! Ask for an a.d. headset at the box office. The audio description is broadcast through personal headphones - only you hear it. Note: Some cinemas may ask for a deposit.


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Before ‘accessible’ cinema came about the vast majority of blind or partially sighted people didn't visit the cinema. If they did, a friend or partner would usually explain what was happening on the screen, often to the annoyance of other members of the audience. That's all changed now with digital 'access' cinema equipment. A separate soundtrack is broadcast through wireless headphones, describing the on screen action which only the wearer can hear. There are thousands of audio described shows every week, in more than 300 cinemas.

It's a quiet revolution for people with sight problems, thanks to the cinema industry, the film distribution industry, technology companies, the R.N.I.B. and other organisations representing disabled people, and the people themselves - thousands of whom, on hearing of the U.K. Film Councils' proposal to fund 50% of the cost of cinema 'access' equipment - wrote and expressed their views on the subject. Organised nationwide campaigning and publicity of accessible shows helped to bring it all together. All these separate entities worked together to make it happen - and quickly.

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