On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, many companies, government departments, and NGOs typically unveil new programmes, products and services designed to meet the accessibility challenges faced by persons with disabilities in today’s inaccessible India. One of the programmes launched this year, the Accessible Cinema Program by PVR Cinemas, has been greeted with much enthusiasm from the disabled community in the country.
Persons with disabilities encounter many challenges due to the extreme level of inaccessibility of movie halls. Right from entering the movie hall to watching the movie itself, the cinema experience has typically been barred to a moviegoer with mobility, vision or hearing impairments.
PVR Cinemas, India’s largest multiplex chain, is out to change that with the launch of the Accessible Cinema Program for people with mobility, hearing and visual challenges. In the first phase, 50 theaters in 30 cities, will be equipped with assistive equipment and technology. In the second phase by June 2019, 95 theaters and 230 screens will be open for people with mobility challenges.
For people with mobility-related challenges, the programme includes the installation of step sliders, step climbers, roll-a ramps, stair lifts and one-step ramps to ensure access to wheelchair-friendly seats. These seats have been marked on the PVR website and app along with companion seats to ease the booking process.
For persons who are visually impaired, PVR has partnered with Brajma Intelligent Systems to offer audio description with the help of XL cinema app that is available on android and iOS platforms. It easily synchronises with the audio track in the cinema and plays the audio described track through the headphones of a mobile phone.
For people with hearing impairment, PVR has programmed the first show after 6:00 pm to be played with subtitles for films which are released with subtitles/captions. The company is seeking support from the producers for audio description and subtitles. It is hoped that a step like this from a mainstream private company will also step up the efforts of the producers in providing audio descriptions and closed captions.