An Aberdeenshire woman has combined her passions and experiences to develop a pop-up cinema that strives to empower deaf and disabled audiences.
Caption This Cinema provides hybrid virtual and in-person screenings which prioritise the deaf and disabled community through its programming and accessibility.
Founder Charlotte Little said she did not grow up seeing “positive, authentic” stories about disabled people on screen.
“I didn’t experience my first accessible cinema trip until I was 17. I also didn’t see myself on the big screen until I was 20. I want to change that for the generations of young disabled kids after me,” she said.
“I want disabled people to feel valued as audience members. I don’t want access to be an afterthought or seen as a burden.”
‘My own contribution’
Miss Little, who is hard of hearing and visually impaired, works as a young deafblind access consultant and programmer. The 23-year-old has Usher Syndrome Type 2 which causes deafness and gradual tunnel vision.
She has used her own experiences as a disabled moviegoer as well as her knowledge in curation and access within the film industry to create Caption This Cinema.
“Working as an access consultant within the film exhibition sector and having a personal perspective as a hard of hearing and partially sighted moviegoer, I’ve seen how far we’ve come but I’ve also realised how much work we have left to do in order to standardise inclusive cinema experiences.
“I want more spaces and events that celebrate and prioritise representation and accessibility. I set up Caption This as my own contribution.”
Earlier this year, Miss Little teamed up with North East Sensory Service (NESS), where she is also a director on the board, to highlight the needs of blind and deaf people in the arts.
She urged cinemas across the country to improve their accessibility and consider the needs of deaf and disabled visitors.
Caption This Cinema is launching its first virtual screening on Wednesday with the 2019 film Vision Portraits, written and directed by Rodney Evans.
The filmmaker explores what it means to have vision while confronting his own sight loss in the “deeply personal” film.
Vision Portraits shows him connecting with three visually impaired artists who he turns to for guidance and insight.
Miss Little said: “I chose Vision Portraits as my inaugural film because I’ve struggled with pursuing a career in the film industry as someone who’s losing their sight.
“I saw myself in Rodney Evans’ journey, and I hope that by showcasing this beautiful documentary, I’ll lend a hand to deconstructing the harmful misconception that blind and partially sighted people can’t be creative, that they can’t thrive and succeed in the arts, that they don’t have vision.”
The Caption This founder will take part in a live discussion about the film and the importance of disability representation with guest speakers Theresa Heath and Tara Brown.
Their conversation will be live-streamed at 7pm on Friday, November 19, with live captioning, BSL interpretation and the speakers will provide visual descriptions of themselves.
The film will be available to watch online from November 17 to 19 through the screening platform Eventive. Tickets are available now on a pay-what-you-can sliding scale up to £8.