How to find accessible cinemas: London guide to inclusive cinema
Whether you're looking for wheelchair accessible, audio described, autism-friendly or subtitled screenings, London cinemas have something to offer
The Vue website contains thorough accessibility details for all their cinemas, many of which represent the brand’s commitment to ‘giving each and every one of our guests an exceptional big screen experience’. Their Finchley Road outpost is great for anyone who needs nearby parking, while Vue Shepherd’s Bush is 250 metres from an accessible overground station. Most venues also have lowered food and drink counters, to make sure nobody goes hungry.
Rich Mix, a not-for-profit cinema in Shoreditch, is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Lifts serve every floor of the building, which has four disabled toilets. If you need to plan in advance, the locations of these toilets are described here. Rich Mix also accepts CEA cards, entitling holders to a free carer’s tickets.
Every screen at Picturehouse Central in Piccadilly can accommodate multiple wheelchair users, and there’s at least one disabled toilet on each floor. Picturehouse also has fully accessible locations in East Dulwich, Greenwich and Stratford, while all their cinemas offer a free ticket to carers.
Films for hard of hearing cinephiles
If Beale Street Could Talk, the new feature from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, will be playing in cinemas in London
Curzon has two subtitled screenings a week at all its cinemas, which can be found across London in locations including Bloomsbury, Victoria, Aldgate and Richmond. These screenings are usually in the early evening or afternoon, and can be found on the website by using the ‘Subtitled for Hard of Hearing’ filter. If a subtitled screening doesn’t suit you, hearing assist headsets are available upon request at any time, for any film, at Curzon’s Bloomsbury and Victoria outposts.
Odeon offers Infra Red headsets at all its locations: they can be picked up at the box office along with your ticket. These headsets use sound induction technology that makes it easier to hear dialogue and soundtracks alike. Some box offices also offer hearing loop systems if you prefer them. If you need subtitles, full details of Odeon’s extensive range of subtitled shows can be found on Your Local Cinema, which collates listings for all London’s subtitled movies.
The independent cinema Peckhamplex regularly screens the latest blockbusters with subtitles. Listings can be easily viewed here. There are also Audio Induction Loops available for any screening if your hearing is impaired. At only £4.99, tickets at this cinema are a steal.
Audio described movies
Mary Poppins Returns boasts nostalgia and magic for the whole family
Cineworld is leading the way when it comes to making cinema accessible to those with visual impairments. High-quality audio description is almost always available for the latest blockbuster. Cinemagoers can access this narrative through special headphones, meaning there’s no need to book a particular screening. Guide dogs are always welcome at any Cineworld location.
Picturehouse also caters for the visually impaired. Their Brixton outpost, the Ritzy Picturehouse, is particularly good: audio description headsets are available for most of the key releases. The East Dulwich and Crouch End programmes also have plenty to offer. Like Cineworld, Picturehouse always welcomes guide dogs.
The independent Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley has five headsets that can be borrowed by visually impaired individuals. To find out whether audio description is available for a film, contact the box office.
Autism friendly screenings
The Favourite is leading this year's Oscar nominations
The Barbican Centre has an outstanding reputation for accessibility. The cinema has monthly Relaxed Screenings, aimed at adults who are on the autistic spectrum, or who have other sensory difficulties. Visitors with disabilities are also encouraged to sign up for the free Access Membership scheme, for discounts and regular updates on upcoming events. Membership also gives the centre a record of your requirements, to help ensure your needs are met.
Again, Curzon proves that it’s taking accessibility seriously. Every month, they offer an autism-friendly screening on a Saturday. Lights are left dimly lit and the volume is lowered, to avoid sensory overload. Meanwhile, the atmosphere is relaxed and inclusive: nobody minds if moviegoers are moving around the auditorium or chatting.
Vue hosts autism friendly screenings on the last Sunday of every month. Like Curzon’s, these shows are ‘sensory friendly’. They’re also shown without adverts and trailers.
Cinema for babies
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is flying into cinemas this half-term
Everyman Baby Club takes place weekly in locations across London. During these special showings, the volume is turned down and the lights are left slightly brighter, to make the environment compatible with newborns. The £14 ticket includes a free hot drink and cake.
Arthouse Crouch End also has baby-friendly showings, every Tuesday at 12.30.
The Lexi Cinema hosts Carers & Babies screenings every Monday at 11am, for £7 per adult (babies go in for free).
For more information about taking children to the cinema, click here.