Monday, December 12, 2016

Accessible film screening gives unique opportunity

IDEAS recently sponsored the Access All Areas Film Festival Gala Screening, which took place on 4th December. It offered audiences the opportunity to experience the new Australian film, Red Dog: True Blue with a variety of accessible features and environments.

Red Dog: True Blue opens in cinemas on Boxing Day.  The world premiere of the film took place the night before the Gala Screening so the Gala audience were among the first people in the world to enjoy the film. It was important to the Festival organisers, The Bardic Studio, to offer this experience to people who so often have to wait until a film comes out on Blue ray. They hope to offer a new Australian film every year.

The film was popular with the audience and quite a few people said they’d been moved to tears at the end. There was an atmosphere of celebration as people expressed their pride in the standard of this new Australian film and chatted about their favourite moments. The two Red Dogs, Abby and Saffie, who were brought along by their generous handler Jamie, received an abundance of cuddles at the end of the screening as guests left the cinema.

This year, the Gala Screening moved to Event Cinemas Parramatta and was held on a Sunday at 11am. Many long term supporters attended and shared their experience of the growth and development of the Festival. There were also a lot of people attending for the first time and it was exciting to see the diversity of the audience.

The Gala screened in three screening rooms concurrently.  The first screening was with an audio description read live by Frances Mathey from Ericsson who also wrote the audio description for the film. The second screening was with open captions and Auslan interpretation by Yasmin. The third screening was a relaxed screening where people were welcome to be themselves and enjoy the film in whatever way they wished and move around as they needed to. There was also a chill out area adjacent to the screening room.

The organisers worked with Westfield Shopping Centre to create a document that detailed the best ways to access the building and get to the cinema complex. For the first time this year a Visual Story was created for the cinema complex and the film.

The 2016 Access All Areas Gala Screening stepped up the access offered by commercial cinema environments this year and the organisers are determined to build on those steps in 2017. They welcome feedback from the disability community, particularly ideas about additional features, supports or information that they can provide to enable more people to experience cinema with as much ease as possible. If you’d like to contribute your ideas please email

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Wiggles embrace sign language to create better accessibility

The Wiggles have been entertaining children for over 25 years. Their fans are diverse, loved by children in many countries, languages and, of differing needs.

They have recently embarked on their Dance, Dance the Wiggles Big Show, bringing entertainment to thousands of children across Australia. One defining feature about The Wiggles (and in large part to their success) is their ability to communicate with children. One of the main features (in addition to the music naturally) of this show is the inclusion of two large screens on stage featuring children signing, or Auslan, to all of The Wiggles’ songs.

Emma, more commonly known as “The Yellow Wiggle”, also ‘signs’ during the concert. Emma is passionate about making The Wiggles’ music accessible for everyone. Emma speaks about her passion for inclusiveness in this recent interview on Sunrise: She has also recently embarked on a video combining Auslan and dance to a Justin Timberlake song:

Is this merely a momentary trend that will pass, or does it finally mean that children with disability are fully part of mainstream community?

Admittedly, there are definitely more occasions where children from all walks of life are appearing in mainstream advertising. Kmart recently featured an advert where one of the stars was a little girl who had Down Syndrome:

Whilst these are fantastic examples of companies and brands supporting inclusiveness through greater access to their music, products and services, here’s hoping that this is not a passing trend and is an opportunity for people with disability to live just like everyone else.

For more information on anything related to Auslan, why not contact the team at IDEAS on 1800 029 904 or visit