What is the task of the volunteers who welcome people at the movies ?

Volunteering for Ciné-ma différence

Ciné-ma différence is a national network organizing movie shows open to all, and made accessible so as to welcome disabled persons (with autism, or multiple disabilities) often excluded from cultural leisure activities, as well as their families.

These movie shows are held on week-ends, in ordinary movie theaters where an accessible movie hall is available.

Some minor technical adaptations are provided – gradual dimming of the lighting, reduced sound so as not to hurt people with hyperacusis.

But the essential adaptation rests on the information provided to the entire public and on the gentle welcome by trained volunteers, who remain attentive during the entire show.

The volunteers are visible

  • Wearing a yellow jacket makes them visible : in one glance, they are identified by the whole audience. Their interventions are legitimized, whether with a disabled person or a non-disabled person. Their yellow jackets serve as a guide identical in all movie shows throughout the network, and enable to focus the attention on the volunteers rather than on the audience.
  • They carry a flashlight so as to illuminate the way of a spectator who stands up, to show the stairs, to avoid possible obstacles. It plays also an important role when it clears a path, which is sometimes sufficient to bring a spectator back to his seat. It reassures and often helps to calm down a moment of anxiety.

At the entrance

The reception takes place without disruption : from the entrance of the movie theater to the ticket counter, then all along the way until seated. A volunteer must also be present inside the hall upon the entrance of the first spectator.

  • Greeting the public with a smile, welcoming the spectators who are not judged nor evaluated : they are welcomed as they are.
  • Assisting them to find a seat and to wait before the film starts.
  • Providing to non-disabled spectators introductory information (deliver a booklet, explain why there are such film shows).

During the film

The volunteers are spread all over the theater, so as to have a global vision and be able to anticipate all reactions. They have an oversight of the hall which they have to know very well so as to make it a safe place for all disabilities, and be able to assist more efficiently.

They pay attention to the entrances and emergency exits, to the stairs as well as to the screen access. They are ready to intervene, so as to explain, reassure, accompany and more generally make everyone feel comfortable. However, they are not supposed to replace the family or the accompanying persons.

  • They illuminate the place for someone, help him out if he needs to move from his seat, or even go out for a while.
  • They direct someone anxious, remain attentive if someone moves or gets excited.
  • They reassure the accompanying persons if needed, and remind that no behavior disturbs.
  • Those who have the ability, help to transfer a person from a wheelchair.

The volunteers must be present, attentive, they must surround but never compel.

After the show

The volunteers’ task ends after the final goodbye. Holding the doors. Saying a few goodbye words. Checking the theater hall so as to make sure everything is OK.

To summarize what is most important :
Friendly welcome

Volunteers must be aware of the diversity of disabilities, not take anything for granted : always be prepared to anticipate the development of a situation.