Making Extra-Curricular Activities Inclusive

Movie Nights

Many campuses hold movie nights and other special entertainment screening. It is important that organizers attempt to render these events accessible to students with disabilities as much as possible.

Some questions you should consider are:

  • Will someone with a visual impairment obtain the same benefits from a movie as a sighted person if the movie relies heavily on visual details?
  • Does the movie selected rely heavily on subtitles that may make it difficult for a blind or visually impaired student to understand the film?
  • Does the movie selected have captioning?

It is important to be mindful of these issues and others when planning an event that includes a video. When requesting a copy of a movie for public viewing, enquire if there is a version that includes captions. Most DVD releases include subtitles, which will provide students with hearing impairments reasonable access to the film. Keep in mind, however, that these subtitles do not include some audio cues such as music or other sounds designed to convey a portion of the storyline. A Deaf or Deaf-blind student may also wish to make use of a sign-language interpreter.

A system known as Descriptive Video Service (DVS) is available to provide persons who are blind or visually impaired access to details conveyed only through visual cues. The system will describe these cues, such as “John rushes down a spiral staircase”, during pauses in speech. While this system is useful, it is not preferred by all and may be somewhat irritating to non-disabled viewers. The selection and availability of films with DVS is also limited. A student with a visual impairment may require assistance to benefit from the film.

Practical Tips:

  • Request a version of the film that contains captions. At a minimum, request a version that includes subtitles.
  • Be prepared to arrange for interpreters upon request.
  • If necessary, arrange for assistants to help describe the video to blind and visually impaired students.
  • Ensure that the venue is physically accessible and navigable.