Great cinema moments - fully accessible for everyone to enjoy together

Greta & Starks are two apps that enable people with sight or hearing loss to experience fully accessible cinema. Starks also includes foreign language subtitles for an international audience.

GRETA & STARKS are special apps, as they play the existing audio description (AD) or subtitles for hard-of-hearing individuals and people with hearing lost (SDH) at any time, place, or screening - in indoor and outdoor cinemas, at home, at school etc. – simply, using one’s own smart device. Greta whispers audio descriptions, and Starks plays subtitles.

The only precondition is that the distributors have engaged our company to make the films fully accessible. Up until now, we were able to offer access to more than 400 movies.

AD? SDH? What?
What are audio descriptions exactly? They are spoken descriptions of what can be seen on screen for people who are blind or sight-impaired. These descriptions are played in the gaps between dialogues.

What does SDH mean? These are subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Usually subtitles are lacking information on who is currently speaking or what is happening on an acoustic level like doors slamming or explosions. SDH contains that information.

Looking back: Fully accessible cinema in DACH-Region? Farther away than flying to the moon
Having access to appropriate audio descriptions or subtitles has not been easy for blind or deaf people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Even if audio description or SDH were available, it was quite difficult to have access to these resources in cinemas.

Ever since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it should be clear that participation and accessibility is a human right. Our thought in 2013: Why on earth was it possible to travel into space and even to the moon since the 1960’s and yet fully accessible cinema was still a unrealized thought floating in the air?

We went a step further
With Greta & Starks we try to encourage the accessibility of films as well as opportunities to participate in cinema-related activities and discussions.
We have worked diligently to achieve our goal of making all films with audio description and SDH easily accessible via GRETA & STARKS. Additionally we will soon start to make subtitles available in other European languages, so as to enable a wider audience ability to watch movies wherever they want, whenever they want, all across Europe. This could also enable tourists, expats, language students or other people who would like to go to the cinema, but don’t have access to the language version or subtitles they need in order to fully understand the film.

We love cinema as a window to the world that allows deep and emotional insights into life through stories. Experiencing cinema is not just seeing pictures and listening to the sound. What draws you into the spell of cinema is the stories being told.

Blind, deaf, hard of hearing or visually impaired journalists or individuals should also have an access to previews and other activities concerning cinema. We have already organized such events, but it could/ should become more natural. Furthermore, it would be beneficial for international film festivals to have blind or deaf jury members, as this would contribute an entirely new perspective on film. Thus, it is our vision that this technology becomes natural worldwide.

For those reasons we developed GRETA & STARKS, which are audio description or SDH (subtitles) players. Each one is very easy and comfortable to use, fail-safe, and free of charge. GRETA & STARKS gives this new cinema audience the autonomy of choice. GRETA & STARKS make fully accessible cinema and inclusion a reality. 

How does it work?

GRETA & STARKS play the fully accessible version (BFV) synchronically with the film. The user requires just a standard smartphone, and for GRETA, the headphones that are already included in the smartphone package.    

The app works cross-platform, namely, on both operating systems Android and iOS. All the user has to do is to download and install the app. Afterwards, they can choose among available films.

The most comfortable way to use Greta is to listen to the AD with one earbud. This way, you can experience the entire cinema sound with the other ear.

The SDH subtitles displayed on ones smartphone are only the first step. At the moment, we are diligently working on STARKS AR Headset ® to display the subtitles much more comfortably. 

Benefit with GRETA & STARKS:

  • Over 31,5 million people with sight or hearing loss in Europe can finally enjoy a film of their own choice independently.
  • There are about 40 million people in Europe (tourists, expats, language students etc. ) who would also have access to appropriate subtitles.
  • Cinemas are fully accessible without any financial investment.
  • Distributors and producers win a completely new audience for all distribution channels.
  • There are several countries like Germany that require distributors to produce barrier-free versions of their films as soon as they have received film funding. All these versions can and should be accessible.
  • GRETA & STARKS can be used anywhere that movies are shown: for example, indoor and outdoor cinemas, libraries, TV broadcasts, schools, and more.

Dream a little dream
We work very hard to make as many films accessible as possible. Our film database is constantly growing, but there are still barrier-free versions of films that are not made available at the cinema. We try to have a wide range of films, from art-house to blockbuster, all represented in our database. Our vision is that, one day, every film created will be available in a fully accessible version.

Second, we want to expand our target group, which means that we want to include foreign language audiences as well. To make subtitles in different languages available means that a large group of people would have further access to the cinema, as existing language barriers could then be avoided.

Feedback from users:

  • „It was simply superb! No more cinema without Greta!“
  • „I was absolutely delighted to be sitting right there in the hall, among all the other sighted people!“
  •  „I’m hearing impaired and totally awed by your project! Simply fab!“
  •  „Brilliant! In the true sense of the of the word I’m able to understand everything. Even dialects or foreign languages are no barrier anymore.“