Vision Australia lodges audio description complaints against broadcasters

Thursday, 26 February 2015 17:08pm

Vision Australia has lodged complaints against the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, SBS and Foxtel with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), calling on them to provide an audio description service for the blind and vision impaired.

Microphone in front of an audio mixing console. Image credit: marvinjvds via Flickr

Audio description is available on television in the UK (where most channels provide it for between 10 and 20 per cent of programs), the US and in other countries. In Australia, a successful trial of audio description took place on ABC1 in 2012, but this was not followed by the introduction of a regular service.

Vision Australia is asking the networks to provide audio description for 14 hours of programs per week. In making the complaints, it is being represented by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Edward Santo, the CEO of PIAC, said in a media release, “In the same way as captioning has facilitated media access for people who are deaf, audio description has the potential to significantly improve access to Australia’s cultural life for the 350,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision.”

Maryanne Diamond, Vision Australia’s General Manager of Advocacy and Engagement, said, “It’s ridiculous that blind or low vision people can watch Home and Away with audio description in the UK but not in Australia.”

In 2013, Blind Citizens Australia lodged complaints against the ABC on behalf of 31 blind and vision impaired people, after it failed to introduce a regular audio description service following the trial. These complaints are still the subject of conciliation by the AHRC. In the meantime, the Department of Communications has announced a trial of audio description on the ABC’s iview service which will commence in April and continue for 12 weeks.  

For more information, see the Audio description on TV website.

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