I encounter an access barrier every time I try to go to the movies. Not a single cinema, that I know of in Aotearoa New Zealand, routinely provides audio descriptions for its films. Overseas cinemas have headsets to listen to the audio description track, so blind and low vision patrons like me can follow the film.
The audio description tracks already exist. They are made by the movie producers and released with the film. The cinemas don't have to create anything! They just have to provide a few headsets, sync the track up, and play it. It's as simple as broadcasting subtitles, or the soundtrack at a higher volume - which are not perfect solutions from what I have heard from d/Deaf folks, but at least d/Deaf people get something to make movies accessible
I have to pick the films I see based on whether or not I think I have any chance of following them. I often have to go home and Google the movie to find out what happened at the end! If I am with a friend, they will whisper descriptions in my ear the whole way through the movie. This is so lovely of them, but it is extra work, and it's socially awkward for both of us. Audio description headsets - and the cinema's willingness make the audio description track available - would let me access movies equally with others when out watching films.
The new access laws should make businesses meet reasonable standards of accessibility, including providing access for blind and low vision patrons. New Zealand businesses should provide an equal level of access for all their customers, as is required of businesses in countries overseas that have good accessibility legislation.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.