Film reception by people with autism and sensory impairments: Total immersion through apps and autism-friendly cinema screenings (FASEA)
Background and aims
People with sensory impairments or with autism spectrum disorder should have the same access to cinemas that people without disabilities do. Yet, barrier-free film versions have up to now been limited to home viewing of films on DVD. Only recently, the smartphone apps ‘Greta’ (audio description) and ‘Starks’ (subtitles) have made many films at numerous cinemas accessible for everyone. There are now also autism-friendly cinema screenings that make the cinema experience more suited to the emotional and sensory needs of people with autism spectrum disorder. This gives people with disabilities a chance for greater social and cultural participation.
This research project is examining how people with sensory impairments using the Greta and Starks apps and people with autism spectrum disorder attending autism-friendly cinema screening perceive and experience films. The results will be compared with results for people without disabilities. The starting assumption is that through the use of the Greta and Starks apps, people with sensory impairments will have a similar quality of experience, similar emotions, and comparable cognitions as people without sensory impairments. Also, through autism-friendly cinema screenings, people with autism spectrum disorder will experience comparable emotions and cognitions.
The participants in this study will include 50 persons with a visual impairment, 50 persons with hearing loss, 50 persons with autism spectrum disorder, and 100 persons without sensory impairments. They will all be comparable regarding age, sex, education, and media experience. The participants will attend a cinema screening with audio description and subtitles or an autism-friendly screening of a film that has an emotional appeal and is cognitively stimulating. The participants will fill out a questionnaire before and after the film screening.
The study indicates that people with sensory impairments using the Greta and Starks apps and people with autism spectrum disorder viewing a film in an autism-friendly cinema screening experience films similarly to people without disabilities and will also show how these persons experience the films emotionally and cognitively under these conditions. In addition, the study will provide pointers on ways to improve apps or autism-friendly cinema screenings. It will also gather experience in how persons with disabilities can be included in reception research.