Key legislation in Australia
Australia currently has a variety of legislative and policy instruments which mandate and support accessibility. It remains the case that there is no single, overarching accessibility instrument or regulatory regime, and each media form is subject to its own set of laws and regulators. Like many other countries, accessibility instruments and regulation face the challenge of media convergence.
For those interested in reading more details about Australian policies please visit the following sections:
Australian legal instruments include:
- Federal Legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA), amended in 2009 and the related Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth), Telecommuncations Act 1997 (Cth) and the Broadcasting Services Act 1997 (Cth) (BSA);
- Industry codes, particularly the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (opens as an e-PDF) and Subscription Television Code of Practice (opens as an e-PDF) developed under the BSA;and
- A variety of governmental policies, particularly the Commonwealth Disabilty Strategy 1994 and the forthcoming National Disability Strategy, which guide Commonwealth agencies in complying with the DDA.
International legal and policy instruments include:
- The United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the related Optional Protocol (both signed in 2007 and formally ratified by Australia in 2008), which are powerful statements of the importance of reducing discriminaton against people with disabilities;
- Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made Federal Government agencies in the US make their information and electronic technology accessible to people with disabilities, which, meant US Government technology suppliers were forced to make their products accessible;
- Ofcom's (the UK media regulator) guidelines for captioning and audio description of televised programming.
The Australian Human Rights Commission
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) grants exemptions to media service providers, amongst other organisations, in exchange for a commitment to increase accessibility. Commercial broadcast television and subscription television are two media sectors which have been granted exemptions to increase captioning levels over a number of years. The AHRC operates these exemptions under the DDA.
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