Abigail Poulton: I’m appalled that subtitled cinema screenings do not have subtitled trailers

Posted on October 19, 2016

Hi! I’m Abigail Poulton, 23, and I’m a London based actress from Birmingham. During a recent visit back to the West Midlands my Mum and I thought it would be nice to go to the cinema together to see an exciting new release; like any mother and daughter would do.

On Sunday morning, I sat in the cinema with my Mother, who is deaf, to watch the subtitled version of Girl on the Train. Now don’t get me wrong, we are both extremely grateful that there are subtitled screenings at these local cinemas but the restricted timings don’t half limit you.

Anyway, after getting comfy and diving into a large tub of popcorn, the house lights came down and the screening commenced.

What. No.

Surely not.

There were no subtitles on the trailers (the whole 20 minutes of them).

As the camera panned onto a heart throb whispering a dramatic line into the heroine’s ear, the scenery swirled around them in technicolour, along with my mind that moved in loops and waves-

Why are there no subtitles on the trailers?

Surely this is a mistake?

How, in this day and age, with the rapid progression in technology, are they screening trailers without subtitles at a SUBTITLED screening???? How?

I was appalled and shocked.

But mostly, I was left feeling annoyed. Annoyed at the fact the screening, despite being a subtitled screening, was not fully accessible for the viewing audience. My Mother was being left in the lurch only having the visuals of the trailers to guide her. All those key phrases & lines that have been timed and positioned perfectly to hook you in and want to buy tickets for these new release – Well, they were being thrown away.

Despite the film itself being gripping & engaging, I left the auditorium that cold Sunday afternoon feeling like my Mother had a different experience than myself due to sheer ignorance.

On our drive back home I tweeted the picture house we attended to see if there was anything being done to rectify this simple yet baffling issue. Much to my surprise it seemed like nothing had been done about this. it seems to be the fault of the big-budget production studios for not providing trailers with subtitles to the screening venues.

But why has it not been standardised yet? Make it a standard – ALL trailers that are to be presented in the UK must have an optional subtitled track that they can play at subtitled screenings. Why can’t it be that simple?

I am currently in communication with UK Cinema Aassociation to get the topic discussed in their next Disability Working Group meeting; a standing forum of cinema operators, film distributors and charity partners (including Action on Hearing Loss) that meet quarterly to review progress across a range of areas around cinema and disability and access.

I know one thing is certain – This needs to change.

We need to take action and speak to those in charge. Let’s makes some noise and get the change ball rolling.

If restricted screenings weren’t bad enough, (having to see a murder mystery at 10am on a Sunday morning), the experience was inaccessible.

To summarise, it should be a standard that all subtitled screenings have subtitled trailers. Simple.

Otherwise cinemas are making deaf people sit looking at footage they can’t hear while overlooking a huge group of viewers for potential ticket sales for these new releases. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. They are not catering for a sixth of the population in Britain who have some level of deafness; thus not catering for their audience.

I don’t know about you but I am hungry for answers. Answers and results. What are your views? Will you join me?

Abigail Poulton describes herself as “an actor, charity shop addict, and CODA. Her (subtitled) acting reel can be seen here and you can follow her on Twitter here


The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Posted in: Abigail Poulton