Free autism friendly training for cinemas

Dimensions autism friendly screenings training is now available for all cinemas to access and use in their journey to host inclusive and sensory friendly films.

The training has been developed with sector and industry experts, and includes a written document and a short video.

There’s no obligation for cinemas to participate but we hope that most will choose to do so. We also hope that those who already host autism friendly screenings take the training as a refresher and to find out what else they can do to be more inclusive.

Your cinema and the staff team there can become autism friendly in three easy steps:

  1. Download, read and share the written training with your team
  2. Watch and share the video with your team (embedded above)
  3. Take the quiz through the UK Cinema Association website

Other resources

    1. Download the poster to share your adjustments with colleagues and guests
    2. Download and use this autism friendly signage (opens Google Drive)
    3. Download, edit and share this autism friendly screenings social story

Why we developed the training

Dimensions has been running autism friendly screenings since 2011, with partner cinemas. From summer 2011 to New Year 2019 autism friendly screenings have had over 400,000 visits with frequent requests for more variety and more opportunities.

We ran a survey asking guests at the screenings about their experiences and we found:

  • 80% of people have felt excluded from their local community
  • Over 60% of people worry most about being judged by others
  • Staff training, tolerance of noise and understanding from the public are the adjustments most important to them
  • The thing people appreciate most about the screenings is being able to enjoy the same films as everyone else
  • Over 90% of respondents would go to the cinema more often if there were more screenings available.

The feedback was clear; people with autism often feel excluded and simply want the same opportunities as other people to enjoy their communities and the cinema.

How we developed the training

We used in-house autism experts, autism consultants and industry partners to develop the written training and a supporting training video for autism friendly cinema screenings.

The written training [link] provides all the information cinemas need to know when planning, scheduling, hosting and promoting autism friendly screenings.

The training video (above) has real life stories from people with autism and guidance on how to host autism friendly screenings from ODEON’s Calum Corser, who pioneered the first screenings in 2011 and has been a driving force behind them ever since.

Filming the training video

It was crucial that our training video was true to autism friendly screenings and provided genuine stories with tips and guidance to motivate cinema staff in their journey.

There was only one way to make this possible – people! Guests at our autism friendly cinema screenings have made them a success so it was a natural decision to invite some as willing stars.

Autism screenings guests enjoying a free film

After a detailed selection process, we chose a producer with experience in the autism sector and we joined 50 guests at Showcase Southampton to record an autism friendly screening.

Our stars enjoyed a free screening of Minions 3 and a LEGO afterparty, which was a huge success.

The footage from that night has been edited together with the stories from Jake (and his mum Stacey) and Lauren who kindly shared their time and experiences with us.

Working with experts

Dimensions has worked with the UK Cinema Association since autism friendly screenings began. They link us to cinemas all over the country and their dedication to accessible cinema has helped drive autism friendly screenings into a national initiative.

Together, we identified a need for industry standard training and they kindly agreed to fund the project.

Working with them and the British Film Institute’s Film Audience Network we’ve been able to represent the best interests of national cinema chains and independent cinemas too.

With our own autism experts, and an autism ambassador and consultant, we’ve developed a training package that has people with autism at its heart.

Take action

The training and video is free for all cinemas. There’s no obligation for cinemas to participate but we hope that most will choose to do so. We also hope that those who already host autism friendly screenings take the training as a refresher and to find out what else they can do to be more inclusive.

Your cinema and the staff team there can become autism friendly in three easy steps:

  1. Download, read and share the written training with your team
  2. Watch and share the video with your team (embedded above)
  3. Take the quiz through the UK Cinema Association website

Other resources

    1. Download the poster to share your adjustments with colleagues and guests
    2. Download and use this autism friendly signage (opens Google Drive)
    3. Download, edit and share this autism friendly screenings social story

Tell us you’re an autism friendly cinema

We’d love to hear about your work so we can share it with our followers:

Follow DimensionsUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hear more about our work and tag us in your posts.

Complete the form to share your stories with our autism friendly project team.

  • If your enquiry is urgent or you would like to speak to a member of the team, please call 0300 303 9062

We aren’t able to take on any new autism friendly cinema partners but we will share your work and provide advice, wherever possible.

Thank you and good luck on your autism friendly journey!