As cinemas are often places that are not easily accessible for families affected by autism, autism-friendly screenings (AFS) aim to make families feel welcome, comfortable and relaxed in an environment that can otherwise seem traumatic.
Families are able to enjoy a film in an environment designed for people on the autism spectrum, their friends and carers. During the film, low lights are left on inside the auditorium, the volume of the soundtrack is reduced and there should not be any trailers.
Cinema goers are free to move around, make a noise or take a break during the film if they need to - these are activities not usually encouraged at regular screenings. In March 2016, the UK Cinema Association
will be launching a new website listing all accessible screenings.
Listed below are some organisations that the NAS are working with but others such as Odeon, Vue, Cineworld and Showcase also hold regular autism-friendly screenings.
Picturehouse runs regular autism-friendly screenings at cinemas across the country. These take place on one Saturday or Sunday a month when they show a popular family film.
Empire cinemas schedule in autism-friendly screenings. Select a local cinema
then click on ‘Assisted Screenings’. The autism-friendly films will appear on that list when they are on offer.
If your local cinema is not offering an autism-friendly screening please speak to the local manager.
Film in schools and youth groups:
Into Film can help you set up a film club that is accessible to autistic young people in your school, youth group or other setting, and can provide relevant teaching resources.
Into Film’s annual festival in November offers free autism friendly screenings around the UK. The National Autistic Society (NAS) had opportunities to speak to young audiences about autism in cinemas around the UK.
UK Cinema Association
We work closely with the UK Cinema Association - an association that represents and acts on behalf of cinema operators. UKCA Disability working group has been instrumental in helping to push forward and steer cinema operators on best practice related to disability and access.
Autism-friendly screenings (AFS) are one the the greatest success stories of the UK cinema sector’s ongoing commitment to be as inclusive as possible and to find different ways to meet the needs of customers. This has been massively helped through the partnerships that have been formed with a variety of charities – including the National Autistic Society.
For more information please contact UKCA’s Policy Executive.
The CEA Card is a national card scheme developed by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) for UK cinemas. The scheme helps participating cinemas to ensure they make reasonable adjustments for disabled guests. This may mean a carer coming to support them. Around 90 per cent of UK cinemas are supporting the scheme from the large national chains to smaller independent operators.