The famous cinema chain ODEON becomes the first in the UK to officially acknowledge the Access Card as an entitlement to a free companion ticket for disabled customers that require one.
This exciting announcement comes after many years of the Access Card team trying to source a firm commitment from cinemas that they would recognise Access Card holders needs.
The Access Card is now a well established universal proof of access requirements scheme which is widely integrated in ticketed events from festivals to arenas to theatres, but historically disabled customers with an Access Card have found asserting their rights for reasonable adjustments in cinemas inconsistent.
Many cardholders have reported success with their local cinemas using discretion and happily accepting the Access Card as a confirmation of their requirement for a companion ticket. This has led to a number of our increasingly popular Named and Famed listings.
Others, more rarely, have had a far less positive experience.
Steve is the Chair Person of Nimbus Disability, the Social Enterprise which runs the Access Card scheme. Steve pictured right, was paralysed from his neck down during military service in the 1980’s:
“I went to my local cinema with my PA and asked for a companion ticket. I was then asked for my CEA card which I don’t have. I had my Access Card on me and showed that but was told I had to have a CEA Card to qualify for a companion ticket”.
This and other stories like it led to our seeking clarifying guidance from the UK Cinemas Association, who do work hard to make sure that stories like Steve’s don’t happen. It is important to reiterate that guidance here, as neither a CEA Card or an Access Card are compulsory for disabled people:
“You don’t need to have a CEA Card for a reasonable adjustment to be made and cinemas still have to make reasonable adjustments. If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, the CEA’s policy is cinema staff should make them for you.
“Where a disabled person requires this level of assistance and is not a CEA Card holder, the Association policy is that the companion should still be allowed a complimentary seat. Cinema staff should be briefed to make sure they understand that the CEA Card is not a pre-requisite for a complimentary seat for a companion of a disabled customer needing assistance. Where such customers do not hold a CEA Card, staff should be briefed and be aware of how they should address the issues which might arise.
“If they think it would be useful and appropriate, staff can highlight the advantages of having a CEA Card and offer customers an application form which all Association members should hold in the box office. Staff should be careful, however, not to indicate this is the only way a disabled person who might need ‘personal’ assistance can receive it.”
For those that choose either a CEA Card or an Access Card, it’s great news that cinemas offer a discrete way of making your needs known.
ODEONS participation in the Access Card scheme came about from a tweet sent by a single Access Card Holder which captured the feelings of many others and led to a substantial number of retweets:
Hi Emily, that would be fine as long as it has your name, picture and a valid expiry date
— ODEON Help (@ODEONHelp) May 8, 2019
Can we quote you on that @ODEONHelp ? It would be great to let other Access Card Holders know about this via our online directory. Any chance of a conversation with someone there? https://t.co/erf3KaSwBR
— Access Card (@CredAccessCard) May 8, 2019
No problem. The Access card has literally changed my life. And the fact you work with organisations to improve access is brilliant. I just wish the cinemas would come on board with you. I resent having to buy a cinema card every year to prove what the access card already does!
— Vikki (@vix_the_star) May 8, 2019
This then led to a response from Odeon confirming Access Card Holders will now be able to show their card when booking tickets to benefit from a free companion ticket.
In order to access online bookings, we’re told that you still need to have a CEA Card to complete this.
Martin Austin, MD of Nimbus Disability says;
“For Access Card holders this is a confirmation that they can expect their local Cinemas to take their Access Card, and therefore their access requirements, seriously.
“Perhaps more significantly it also shows that disabled people asserting their rights and questioning the status quo together can influence the way organisations respond and lead to change.
“Nimbus Disability is an Award Winning company in the field of accessible ticketing because of our Access Card scheme. Our Card Holders simply want some consistancy in the way that they access services – not to keep on having to register and keep explaining themselves and sharing personal information.
“The organisations they visit want efficiency and simplicity at their customer facing delivery.
“I would certainly hope to see cinema chains join live music and start taking advantage of the Access Card and our sophisitcated ticketing technology in the near future so that a disabled person isn’t required to walk around with a dozen different cards in their pocket”
A point this tweeter pointed out themselves:
I hate having to have a purse full of store cards and different disabled cards, one card for all shops and one card to prove disabities would be so much easier for people like me who struggle carrying a huge purse in my hands as my grip isn’t good — Maggie & Scooby … and occasionally their Mum (@StaffsMaggie) May 9, 2019
And this tweet outlines why this Card Holder values the wider impact of the Access Card Scheme
It would be so much better for the cinemas to work with @CredAccessCard so that disabled people only need one card. Disabled ppl would rather pay for the Access card as they work to improve access universally. CEA card does nothing to help improve access and disability awareness
— Vikki (@vix_the_star) May 8, 2019
Check out your local ODEON Cinema here: