Accessibility At Its Finest Begins At Planning

Can A Blind Person Enjoy A Movie?

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#1 Outside front of The Tull Family Theater, lobby and screening room.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Can you believe how quickly this summer is progressing? It seems like yesterday we were in May and now, well we’re more than half way through the year.

Even though the days are moving rather swiftly I for one am having a blast. Last week I met with a good friend of mine at the new theater in my childhood hometown, Sewickley, and what a great experience I had.

The Tull Family Theater is such a well-designed facility whose organizers went above and beyond ADA requirements where accessibility is concerned. The management team knew I was coming ahead of time and was anxious for my feedback on their audio descriptive equipment which I use to watch movies.

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#2 Concession stand (front), concession stand (side), screening room

On entering the building, I was immediately struck by the wide open airy feeling of the space. The facility was bright, very clean, and uncluttered which is an important detail when you can’t see very well.

A tour of the building allowed me to experience firsthand the welcoming environment of the wheelchair accessible hallways, ramps, grab-bars, and general area to navigate. The front of the building which contains the roomy lobby area and a concession stand is brightened up by the glass entryway, high ceiling, and soothing gray with purple accent walls.

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#3 Collage of me posing with my white cane.

The two film screening rooms are very comfortable and share the same gray/purple color scheme throughout the rest of the building. There is also the large Esmark and Bouchard Family Community Room which is available for rental for various events.

At my son’s recommendation, I chose to watch Despicable Me 3. While the audio description was alright the fact that I didn’t see the other two movies first made it difficult for me to fully enjoy the film. Not to be deterred, me and one of my friends will be going to the theater this weekend to take in a different film.

Overall I had a very good day and what made it even more special, aside from meeting with my friend, was the interest and care provided by the management team. Every person I met wanted to know what they could do to improve their service and offerings from an accessibility standpoint.

What I wore: white jeans, white cami, opened white shirt, nude lace-up block heeled sandals, silver statement necklace, bracelet, earrings and my white cane.

Descriptions: Three tri-panel collages

  1. Outside front of the theater with 3 banners (Film, The Tull Family Theater, and Art), inside lobby and screening room featuring seats, speakers on the wall and other equipment.
  2. Concession stand (front) with hanging light fixtures, popcorn & soda machines and candy; concession stand (side); screening room featuring the screen.
  3. I am standing in all three photos, posing with my white cane in front of my counter.

Have a great Monday!


  1. Great to hear you had a good time at the cinema Steph! And how fantastic that the staff really wanted to help, and also wanted feedback! You are looking like a star by the way – very smart – a true advocate for yourself!
    Take care, and hope you enjoy many more cinema trips!
    – Carly

  2. Yes, you’re correct George and when the thought occurred to me I was thinking of wheelchair users and may have said as much during the tour. They are doing some remodeling outside and have requested of the borough to install another ramp from the sidewalk directly to the front of the theatre. Right now the only was for wheelchairs to gain access is through the parking lot on the side of the building. Even though there is a ramp they want to offer multiple entry/exit points.

  3. Accessibility should be done because it’s easy and because it’s right. Kudos to the people who designed the theater for their work and for caring enough to inquire how it worked for you.
    You mentioned open and uncluttered. Those are important to wheelchair users, as well, as it can be hard to negotiate around things in a public area.

  4. Thanks for this description Carla! Would you mind if I inserted this bit into the post. I neglected to define audio description.

  5. Thanks Brigid. I was so impressed with the management team’s effort in the area of accessibility and I’m hopeful others can learn from their example.

  6. Thanks, Katelon!

    Yeah, my son was telling me the Minions are hilarious. I’ll see if I can catch them on Netflix.

  7. Yes! We can! Thanks to Video Description Services which refers to audio-narrated descriptions of key visual elements of programming inserted within natural pauses in dialogue. This is via a little transmitter attached to open-air earphones you typically pick up at the concession stand along with your popcorn and fake butter (yum)! It picks up an additional soundtrack embedded on the movie soundtrack, and the open headset let’s you enjoy the regular soundtrack that everyone else is hearing as well. So far I saw the movies La La Land and Beauty and the Beast which I found to be a totally fulfilling and enriching experience – so see you at the movies!

  8. Glad you had a good time. You can probably get the first 2 despicable me movies at redbos or via netflix. I love the Minions and their language.

    Pretty outfit.

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