Here's everything you need to know about watching films in cinemas, on DVD and Blu ray discs if you're blind or partially sighted.

Audio description in cinemas

Many cinemas are equipped with a system that delivers audio description (AD) through a headset, which is provided when you collect your ticket. The audio description runs when the film is shown and is undetectable to anyone not wearing a headset.

Like a narrator telling a story, AD is an additional commentary describing body language, expressions and movements. Find out more about audio description.

Find out which cinemas provide audio description in your area at Your Local Cinema or telephone them on 0845 056 9824 or email [email protected]. The call centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Let them know which town you are in and they'll tell you if there are any audio described films being screened in your area. Alternatively, you can email [email protected].

You can apply for a Cinema Exhibitor's Association (CEA) card which entitles you to two-for-the-price-of-one tickets in all participating cinemas if you claim a qualifying benefit (such as Disability Living AllowancePersonal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance) or that you are registered as blind ("severely sight impaired"). The card costs £6 and needs to be renewed every year. For more information visit the CEA card website, call 01244 526 016 or email [email protected].

Audio description on DVDs

Many new films are now being released on DVD and Blu-ray with an audio description track included on the disk. These disks can be purchased or rented through retail outlets. Online DVD rental websites such as Prime Instant Film (formerly LoveFilm), MyVue, and Odeon Direct have a search facility to select audio described titles available to rent.

To check whether a film has audio description you'll need to check the information box on the back of the disks packaging. It will be listed as an optional audio or language track as one of the following:

  • Audio Described English
  • Audio Description
  • Audio Descriptive Track
  • AD logo 

AD soundtracks have to be turned on using an on-screen menu. DVD players may have a button on the remote control that will allow you to cycle through the different sound tracks available on the DVD, until you reach the audio description sound track. This button can be labelled as “audio”, “language” or as a row of three circles intersecting each other.

A list of titles with an audio description track can be found on the website.

For further information contact RNIB, [email protected]  or telephone 0303 123 9999.

RNIB also offers advice to DVD producers on how to make their films accessible.

Choosing a DVD player

Access to DVDs can be difficult, as the audio description soundtrack has to be accessed from an on-screen menu. Many DVD players have an audio button on the remote control that can make it easier to select the audio described track. However, there are a number of DVDs which offer talking menus, which also appear on our list above.

Download our factsheet for further information and advice on choosing a DVD player.

Useful resources

Please visit our useful resources page for other factsheets and helpful links.