“Sensory backpacks” at local theatre chain improve movie accessibility for all

NEOSHO, Mo. — This month is Global Accessibility Awareness Month.

Thursday was Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day set aside, in the month of May, to highlight the resources available for folks with disabilities, that impact their ability to enjoy some of their favorite activities – like going to the movies.

“We love the magic of the movies, we love bringing Hollywood to your hometown, that’s our slogan, and we believe in five core values of family, fun, innovation, joy, and integrity,” said Paul Farnsworth, B&B Theatres Executive Director of Communications and Content.

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Farnsworth said one of the ways the Neosho facility, and theaters all across the country, help movie goers with disabilities is its “sensory backpacks” which include screen-dimming glasses, sound enhancing earphones, a weighted blanket, even a captioning device, which provides closed captioning for any movie.

“But it doesn’t cost anything to use those and we’ve been inundated since we rolled these out a few years ago with emails, hand-written letters from parents who say, I could never take my son to the movies before thank you for this, we were able to make it through a movie for the first-time and create an experience for him.”

Farnsworth said, with B&B being the fifth-largest movie theater chain in the country – they feel a responsibility to ensure everyone is able to experience the “magic of the movies”.

“We’ve began to really explore what we deemed, our internal inclusion revolution, which is where we took a hard look at our facilities, our inner-activity with guests, to see what we could do — and so there are simple things, ADA compliance, I suppose is the absolute baseline, and we were like, what can we do beyond that to really send a message that we want people to feel like they belong here.”

Farnsworth also gave us an update on the future B&B location in Joplin: he said there should be a ground breaking in the next two months with a grand opening expected next summer.

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