Enhancing Accessibility in Indian Cinema: Draft Guidelines and Implementation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

Mains level : Accessibility for Divyangjan

Introduction

  • Enhancing accessibility in cinema halls for individuals with hearing and visual impairments is a crucial step towards promoting inclusivity and ensuring equal participation in cultural activities.
  • The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s draft guidelines aim to address this imperative by mandating accessibility features in film screenings.

Accessibility Guidelines: Rationale Behind

  • Legal Mandate: The guidelines are framed under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which emphasizes universal access in the information and communication sector.
  • Population Statistics: With approximately 2.21% of the Indian population classified as disabled, the guidelines aim to cater to the needs of individuals with hearing and visual disabilities, constituting a significant portion of this demographic.

Proposed Guidelines Overview

[A] Accessibility Features

  • Producer Responsibility: Producers must submit two sets of films to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC): one original and the other with accessibility features, including audio description, open/closed captioning, and Indian Sign Language Interpretation.
  • Certification Requirement: Cinema halls must ensure that feature films for theatrical release have both versions certified by CBFC.

[B] Implementation Options for Cinemas

  • Dedicated Screenings: Cinema halls can opt for dedicated days and timings for screenings with accessible services.
  • In-theater Equipment: Alternatively, theaters can utilize specific equipment during regular shows to facilitate the impaired segment.

[C] Accessibility Equipment

  • Availability Requirement: Theaters must provide at least two pieces of equipment per 200 seats, which could include:
    1. Smart glasses for displaying captions
    2. Closed caption stands near seats
    3. Small screens below the big screen for captions/subtitles
    4. Headphones/earphones for audio description
    5. Mobile apps and other technologies for assistance during shows

Implementation Timeline

  • Initial Phase: Films dubbed in multiple languages must incorporate accessibility features within six months of guideline implementation.
  • National Platforms: Feature films for national awards and film festivals must include accessibility features starting January 1 of the following year.
  • Full Compliance: All other certified feature films must provide accessibility features within three years from the guideline issuance date.

Onus and Monitoring Mechanisms

  • Exhibitor Responsibility: Cinema owners must develop a self-regulatory mechanism to provide accessible seating within three years and train staff to assist customers with disabilities.
  • Monitoring and Oversight: Licensing authorities will ensure compliance, and a committee, including members with disabilities and film industry representatives, will oversee implementation.
  • Grievance Redressal: A structured grievance mechanism will allow individuals to file complaints, ensuring accountability and transparency.

Key Initiatives for Divyangjan’s Accessibility

  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016: Enacted in 2016, it safeguards the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities across various spheres, including education, social services, legal matters, and economic opportunities.
  • Accessible India Campaign (2015): It aims to ensure full accessibility of government buildings for people with disabilities, enhancing inclusivity and mobility.
  • Sugamya Bharat App (2016): Introduced by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, this app addresses accessibility challenges faced by differently-abled individuals in buildings and transportation systems.
  • New Education Policy (2020): Rolled out in 2020, NEP 2020, under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, provides in-service training for teachers and special educators to ensure barrier-free access to education for children with disabilities.
  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (1981): ADIP scheme, operational since, assists disabled individuals in obtaining modern aids and appliances to enhance their physical, social, and psychological rehabilitation.

Conclusion

  • The proposed roadmap for implementation underscores the commitment to realizing the principles of universal access and ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities are upheld in the realm of entertainment.

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