How do I make my cinema inclusive and accessible?

06 Useful Terms and Definitions


Removal of discriminatory barriers to disabled people’s participation in society. Provision of facilities that do not discriminate (i.e. level or ramped access, sign language interpretation and plain English documents).

Access Audit

Establishes how well a particular building and service performs in terms of access and ease of use by a wide range of potential users, including people with mobility and sensory impairments and people with learning disabilities.

Access Groups

Informal independent consumer groups, usually of disabled people, who work with local organisations on a range of matters relating to access.

Audio Description (AD)

Refers to a recorded narration track which describes what is happening on the cinema screen – during natural pauses in the film audio – through personal headphones.

British Sign Language (BSL)

The first language of Britain’s signing deaf community.

Caption Subtitling (CS)

Refers to a transcription of the audio from a film, including non-dialog audio such as “(sighs)” or “(door creaks)”, usually displayed at the bottom of the cinema screen.

Disabled People

Preferred to the term ‘the disabled’, which is a dehumanising definition.


Is the loss or limitation of opportunities to participate in society on an equal level with others, due to physical and social barriers (also see Impairment, below).

Hidden Impairment/Disability

Such as dyslexia, epilepsy, diabetes and a wide variety of other conditions; these are recognised in the Equality Act 2010 interpretation of disability.

Hearing Impairment

General term covering all degrees of hearing loss.


Is the functional limitation within an individual caused by physical, mental or sensory impairment such as blindness or paralysis, etc. (also see Disability, above)

Medical Model of Disability

As differentiated from the preferred Social Model – see below

Sensory Impairment

General term covering visual and hearing impairments.

Social Model of Disability

Is used by the majority of organisations led by disabled people and it defines disability as a societal issue and states that it’s society’s physical, sensory, attitudinal and behavioural barriers which disable people, not their particular condition or impairment.

Visual Impairment

General term covering blindness, partial sight, etc.

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