Monday 06 December 2021

Movie House Cityside Installs Changing Places Facility

Movie House Cityside Installs Changing Places Facility

Posted Tuesday 04 February 2020

Movie House has become the first cinema company in Northern Ireland to install a Changing Places facility at its Cityside complex. 

The Changing Places facility is much larger than a standard accessible toilet, allowing room for extra assistance and equipment including a hoist system, an adult-sized changing bench and a shower.

Changing Places facilities are helpful for people with disabilities for whom standard accessible toilets are not appropriate. These include those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and spinal injuries. It is also beneficial for some older people who may require more space than in a standard accessible toilet.

Commenting on the thinking behind this installation, Michael McAdam, Managing Director of Movie House Cinemas said: “I’d been listening to the radio and heard a man with a disability speaking about how hard it was for him to get out and about with his family and what a lifeline these Changing Places toilets are. We had just started major renovation work to upgrade our Cityside cinema and so there was an opportunity to include in our new plans a Changing Place facility. I hope it will allow more people with disabilities to have the chance to visit the cinema with their friends.” 

Michaela Hollywood from the access campaign group Trailblazers, a national network of 700 young disabled people and their supporters, added: “Having a cinema with a Changing Places facility on site is a dream come true! Being able to eat, drink and enjoy the snacks at the cinema and not have the worry of not being able to use the bathroom is going to be liberating for many disabled people. I can’t wait to use it!”

The group which is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK campaigns for change, provides guidance, and are experts in what life is like for young disabled people. 

“We are passionately committed to challenging the barriers in society that stop us from living full and independent lives,” Michaela added.

The Cityside cinema is also installing a new Audio Description system in three of its screens. Special headsets will provide a description of all the action on the screen for people with a visual disability. In addition, the company is making changes to its online booking system to allow customers with a disability to use their CEA cards to book seats for their carer.

The new Changing Places development at the Cityside complex reflects increasing consideration by the wider UK cinema sector of the role that these facilities can play in making cinemas more accessible for disabled people. 

Phil Clapp, CEO of the cinema trade body the UK Cinema Association, commented: “We have been working with all of our members over the last couple of years to understand the need for Changing Places facilities, and how they can be accommodated within plans for new-build and refurbished sites. We were therefore delighted to learn of this latest installation by Movie House, the first in a cinema in Northern Ireland.’  

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