Application for exemption under DDA section 55: Cinema captioning and audio description

See now full decision and summary decision

The Commission has received an application (linked in Word format) on behalf of Hoyts Corporation, Greater Union Organisation, Village Cinemas and Reading Cinemas (the applicants) for a Temporary Exemption under section 55 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) from complaints in relation to the provision of captions and audio description in cinemas operated by the applicants.


Update 3: Response to request for further information

The Commission has received a response from the applicants (attached, MS Word 2007 format) to the issues raised in the Commission's letter seeking further information. The Commission will now proceed to consider the application as soon as possible.

Update 2: Request for further information

Before making a decision on the application the Commission wrote written to the applicants with a request for further information on a number of issues raised in submissions. In order to ensure continuing transparency in processing the application the content of this letter has been added to the documentation on our website.

Update 1: Submissions

See submissions in response to notice of inquiry

Summary of application

In summary the proposal would:

  • Increase the number of screens in cinemas operated by the applicants capable of delivering captions to 35 over the next 2½ years following the granting of any Temporary Exemption
  • Provide audio description capability in all those 35 screens, including a retro-fit of the current 12 cinemas offering captioning to include audio-description
  • Commit the applicants to a review of the current program in consultation with representatives from key stakeholders starting 9 months before the end of the Temporary Exemption period
  • Commit the applicants to working with representatives of disability organisations to ensure the availability of accessible information on film schedules within 6 months of the granting of any Temporary Exemption

The application includes a schedule of dates for implementation of the proposed increased availability of cinema access and details of other commitments.

In order to assist those wishing to make submissions the following background information may be of interest:

1. Media Access Australia information on accessible cinema

2. Background information on the Australian Human Rights Commission work in this area

3. The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Investigation into media access at  

4. Additional information provided by the applicants in response to Commission request.

Request for submissions

In accordance with its policy on exemption applications , the Commission seeks to give interested parties an opportunity to participate in the process of considering this application.

The Commission seeks submissions by Monday 7 December 2009 , by email to . The period for comments in this case has been reduced from the six weeks generally provided by the Commission to a four week period, in view of considerable discussions that have already taken place between the applicants and representatives of a number of disability and other organisations.

To promote open public discussion and exchange of views, the Commission intends to post submissions made electronically on its Internet site. Please provide submissions in an accessible format (such as HTML, word processor format, or text) and keep use of graphics to a minimum to keep file sizes down.

Any requests for material to be treated as confidential should be clearly indicated.

Michael Small
Director Disability Rights Policy
Australian Human Rights Commission
5 November 2009