Television revealed for blind and vision impaired Australians

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:20pm

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has just announced that Australia’s first audio description trial will be held on the ABC. The long-awaited announcement is a result of many years of advocacy by Media Access Australia and several disability organisations and is a step towards bringing Australia into line with international standards.

Audio description, which adds an audio track to a program describing the visuals on-screen, is essential for blind and vision impaired people to fully understand video content. The DBCDE has committed to 14 hours of audio described drama and documentary content per week on ABC1 for a 13-week period during the second half of this year.

Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley, endorsed the announcement. “This is great news for blind and vision impaired people. Audio description will provide access for the growing population of seniors, as vision impairment increases greatly as we age.”

“Captioning has been a fundamental element of television broadcasting since the 1980s. Audio description needs the same recognition and support from the federal government,” said Mr Varley.

Audio described television is available in New Zealand, Western Europe and North America. It is our hope that this trial irons out any technical issues involved in delivering audio description and leads to the government legislating for audio description to become a permanent fixture on Australian television.

The announcement has been welcomed by many prominent community groups including Vision Australia, Blind Citizens Australia and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

Michael Simpson, Vision Australia’s General Manager of Advocacy, said, “Vision Australia is excited that the trial of audio description on television will commence soon. This will bring a whole new meaning to ‘watching’ TV for people who are blind or have low vision.”

Media Access Australia currently advocates for the inclusion of audio description on television, cinema, online video and DVD.

The trial is detailed in a media release from Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for  Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Further information on audio described television is available on our website.


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