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Film For All: Junction’s All-Embracing Cinema Experience

Junction’s autism-friendly cinema screenings are creating a welcoming environment for those with autism to enjoy the biggest summer blockbusters in a safe, accessible atmosphere.

As you take your place in a comfy seat to watch the latest hit – armed with boxes of overflowing popcorn – Its easy to take trips to the cinema for granted. But for some, a visit to the movies isn’t always so straightforward.

For people with autism, the experience of visiting the cinema can be quite difficult. A combination of long queues, crowds and being plunged into darkness, while being subjected to loud noises and special effects, can create something of a sensory overload. This can result in what should be an enjoyable experience unfortunately becoming stressful and somewhat traumatic.

However, Junction in Goole has joined a growing initiative to address these issues – autism-friendly screenings. Junction has always taken great pride in providing an accessible environment for all members of the Goole community, and these screenings are yet another example of the town’s arts venue going above and beyond to cater for the local public.
While disability service Dimensions works with Vue, Odeon and Cineworld to provide its own nationwide, autism-friendly cinema experience at over 250 theatres, Junction is able to benefit from the close relationship it enjoys with its regular attendees to provide an even more accommodating, personal experience.

Autism-friendly screenings are achieved through simple alterations such as opening the auditorium 30 minutes before the beginning of the film, to allow audiences to get comfortable and familiarise themselves with the space as well as using low-level lighting, rather than complete darkness, and reduced sound levels with advert-free screenings. Visits to see the auditorium prior to the screening can also be arranged if required.

In terms of the wider data that is available for autism-friendly cinema screenings, in 2015, the UK Cinema Association found that autism-friendly showings averaged just 9 attendees. So, two years on, when you consider that Junction – a much smaller, modest venue – is averaging 48 viewers for each of their autism-friendly showings, this certainly indicates both a growing demand and audience for the service. But above all else, it is testament to the fantastic work that Junction are doing in making a trip to the movies accessible for all – irrespective of individual needs.

So far, we understand that these screenings have been a great success. Speaking to Our Goole, a recent cinema-goer said: ‘I took my six-year-old son to the autism-friendly showing of Moana and was thoroughly impressed. The staff were extremely kind, helpful and the facilities were excellent.’ Also speaking to OG, Lauren Cowdery, the venue’s marketing officer, said: ‘We take accessibility seriously at Junction and want to make sure all our audiences can have an enjoyable experience whatever their needs. Since starting our autism-friendly screenings in 2011, we’ve seen them become a popular part of our film programme, and we’re delighted to be able to offer the opportunity to enjoy the latest films to people on the spectrum, both in Goole and beyond. With average audiences of around 50 (and growing!), the screenings are going from strength to strength, which is really positive and highlights the requirement for this type of screening in our community.’

Perfect for kids during the school holidays, Junction’s summer schedule of fantastic autism-friendly screenings will begin with Cars 3 on Tuesday August 15th. See their full schedule at: www.junctiongoole.co.uk/whats-on/cinema/

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