Policy & Legislation

Report looks at television access levels across Europe

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A major report commissioned by the European Commission has found that levels of captioning, audio description and signing on television vary widely across Europe, and are highest in countries which have introduced legal or regulatory obligations. 

The Study on Assessing and Promoting E-Accessibility looked at accessibility levels in three areas – web, telecoms, and television – in the 27 member states of the European Union (EU), along with four comparison countries, Australia, Norway, Canada and the US.  For each country, the study looked at two public broadcasters and two commercial broadcasters.


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Highlights of 2013: television caption quality

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In June, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released its long-awaited caption standard, setting out the criteria it will use when dealing with complaints from the public about poor captioning.

The Broadcasting Services (Television Captioning) Standard.2013 is a very important piece of legislation for Deaf and hearing impaired viewers. Prior to its release, there was no definition of captions in the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) and no indication of what constituted adequate caption quality. This meant that the ACMA could only deal effectively with complaints about a program where the captions either did not appear, or were so bad that they were obviously useless for viewers.


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Highlights of 2013: access in the air

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As many of our readers prepare to jet off on summer holidays, people will be curious about how their access needs will be accommodated by airlines. A number of developments this year are changing the way we travel as well as the enjoyment of our air travel experience. Most developments are taking place in the USA as a result of the Air Carrier Access Act, which impacts strongly on Australia and the rest of the world.

In March 2013, amendments to the Air Carrier Access Act were introduced to the US Senate, requiring domestic and foreign air carriers to ensure that all visually displayed entertainment is accessible, including by making available captioning and audio description for people who are Deaf, hearing impaired, blind, or vision impaired.


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Unscrambling caption quality control

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In 2014 Media Access Australia will release the world’s first review of how the quality of closed captions and subtitles for the Deaf and hearing impaired is controlled internationally. The white paper is sponsored by Red Bee Media and will explore how a more consistent approach to captioning will benefit both viewers and caption providers internationally.

The report will draw on a range of approaches from across the world, both in English and other languages and will examine how various countries such as the UK, USA and Australia ensure the accuracy of closed captions on broadcast television.


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