IMAX Accessibility

Marlise and Angela, Phase I Scholars

On Saturday, July 24, Scholars went to the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center to watch the documentary Hubble 3D, about NASA's Hubble telescope and the breakthroughs it made in space-related science. There were some accessibility problems concerning the IMAX building and movie.

For people using wheelchairs, the theater had an acceptable amount of wheelchair space for the public but, of course, not enough for all the wheelchairs in the DO-IT group. Four Scholars transferred from their wheelchairs to theater chairs, which is a task that, ideally, would not be necessary to perform.

For one of the Scholars, who is deaf, the movie was just a bunch of pretty pictures since the film didn't have captions. For people who are blind, the film was accessible because most images were clearly described verbally. This feature aided Scholars with learning disabilities as well.

Even though watching the movie was a pleasurable experience for most Scholars, the route to and from the theater was not easily accessible for people with physical disabilities. For example, there was a long, winding ramp for wheelchairs at the top of the theater. There was not a sign instructing viewers that walking down the ramp brought you, inconveniently for most, to the bottom of the theater. At the end of the film, the usher instructed us to exit the theater using the long and steep stairs on both sides of the seats?not a route accessible for people with mobility impairments.

After the movie, a Scholar had to use the restroom. When she went to wash her hands, she noticed that one of the sinks was conveniently lower than the other two. However, she couldn't use the mirror because all three mirrors were the same inaccessible height. She wondered, "Why lower a sink but not a mirror with it?"

In conclusion, the IMAX movie experience was thrilling. There were some accessibility challenges that would be simple to fix. We hope the contractors, designers, and managers of the IMAX decide to make a few changes to the theater to accommodate everyone. We recommend adding captions to videos, making directions to wheelchair locations and routes clear, lowering mirrors in the restrooms, and training all staff to assist participants with disabilities.