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A group of Deaf people were effectively forced to leave a subtitled screening of the new Star Wars film yesterday evening when the cinema appeared to turn off the subtitles after hearing people complained about them appearing on the screen.
Our reader Louise Drake, who took her two 16 year old daughters – who are both deaf – with her to one of the few subtitled screenings, told us:
It was the 6pm screening of Star Wars at the Odeon cinema, West Street, Brighton. It was clearly advertised as a subtitled screening and my tickets say captioned.
When the film started there were no subtitles, so myself and another man (whose brother is deaf) went to the desk to complain. The lady said she was sorting it out.
The film was stopped and she came up to advise everyone that they would be restarting the film with subs. Quite a few people started complaining about the subtitles and saying they didn’t think it was supposed to be subtitled.
She told them they could move to another screen that started at 7pm but they said they would stay. However a number of other people left.
I then went to the toilet with one of my girls and when we got back there were two more women who worked for the Odeon, there saying that they weren’t going to show subtitles with the film and anyone that wanted to leave could get a refund. We left and the man with his deaf brother left too and we were refunded.
It looked very obvious that all the Odeon cared about was numbers. Easier to refund five people rather than about thirty people who didn’t want subtitles.
As you know subtitled films are few and far between and we had been looking forward to seeing the film – impossible for my girls without subs. As a hearing person I’m disgusted at the prejudice shown towards deaf viewers tonight and at the cinema for putting profit before rights.
Louise also told us that one of her daughters, Esmee (pictured below, on the left) is a big Star Wars fan and was extremely disappointed after returning home from the cinema. The trip was a Christmas treat.
We have contacted Odeon cinemas for an explanation. On disability access, the Odeon website says:
We support the principles of the Equality Act (2010) and are committed to recognising and responding to the needs of all disabled people. It is our intention, wherever possible, that all our premises and facilities are accessible whatever the nature of disability. We work with other informed parties, for example the ‘Cinema Exhibitors Association’, ‘Business Disability Forum’’ and other professional groups, to develop solutions to our own and industry wide barriers to access.
Odeon have now responded on Twitter saying:
Unfortunately a technical fault prevented us showing Star Wars: The Last Jedi with subtitles. Our team apologised to guests affected, offering full refunds and passes to return on a date of their choice. We’ve now fixed the fault and look forward to welcoming guests back soon.
— ODEON (@ODEONCinemas) December 19, 2017
Charlie Swinbourne, Editor
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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